The Democratic Republic of Congo has declared cobalt and coltan strategic mineral resources. This is according to the advisor to the DRC's Prime Minister, Jean Nkunza, after the country's new mining codes were signed into law by President Joseph Kabila on 9 March 2018.
By declaring both cobalt and coltan strategic minerals, the DRC stands to receive higher royalties from their mining.
“We need to make enough money before we run out of these minerals so that is why they are strategic to the country. We have to make sure for the next 20 years we make money from these minerals because demand is going to be so high. It’s going to continue to grow and we are not going to stop raising the royalties on these minerals,” said Nkunza.
World cobalt reserves as of 2017. | Statista.
The DRC is not only the largest supplier of cobalt worldwide but it also holds approximately 60% of cobalt reserves across the globe. Cobalt and coltan are used in the production of electric vehicles, electronic devices, and renewable energy technology.
The new mining codes have received almost unanimous criticism from mining companies with operations in the DRC, with many stating that they see the codes prohibiting and scaring away foreign investment in the DRC's mining sector. However, mining companies have also agreed, despite criticising the new mining codes, to start negotiations with the DRC's government over methods that they can implement the codes.
The DRC also faces a child labor problem as far as the mining of cobalt and coltan goes. To this effect, President Kabila has recently approved a blockchain technology solution to address the provenance issue of the strategic minerals. The solution, developed by Dorae Inc., applies blockchain technology to the secure transmission of mining supply chain data, ensuring that the source of the minerals is always known up until it is used in the manufacturing of various products.