Namibia wants its share of the cobalt boom
Although the precious metal was discovered in Namibia only six years ago, the desert country has big plans with it. It could have its first cobalt mine in 2020, making it the latest country to get in on the world’s insatiable need for rechargeable batteries. According to Quartz Africa mining companies are reporting that initial exploration shows there could be enough of the metal to make Namibia a competitive cobalt producer. As the price of cobalt surges thanks to the demand for rechargeable batteries in everything from phones to cars, this latest discovery could be a boon for Namibia’s economy.
Australia’s Celsius Resources, which has made Namibia’s first cobalt discovery, is aiming to start production from the remote mine in 2020, the company’s managing director said. Cobalt is a key component in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in the surging electric car market but most of it comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country racked by instability and violence, prompting a scramble for alternative sources.
“We have found cobalt in Namibia and a lot of it. Everywhere we drill a hole along this prospective horizon we find cobalt,” Celsius Managing Director Brendan Borg told Reuters.
The initial cobalt discovery – now on the landholding of Celsius Resources – was made by Gecko Exploration in 2012 in the Kunene region. Mapping and sampling revealed that Namibia’s first cobalt deposit is of very large scale. Cobalt as cobalt sulphide occurs in only one specific stratigraphic horizon in a dolomitic marlstone which was named the Dolostone Ore Formation (DOF).
But it isn’t only the quality of the ore that is attracting investors. The same presentation highlighted Namibia’s stability, good infrastructure, and clear mining codes, all advantages that Namibia has over the world’s larges, but politically haunted producer, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Namibia’s mining sector has already been praised as more favorable than the region’s mining giant, South Africa.