Glencore to cut cobalt output with market struggling

Glencore Plc is cutting its production target for cobalt this year in response to weak market conditions, which prompted the miner to stockpile metal that’s proving tough to sell.

The company will produce between 35 000 to 40 000 tons of the battery metal this year, down as much as 42% from a production target set in December 2022, it said on Thursday. It also expects to incur higher production costs at its copper mines, due partly to its stockpiling of unsold cobalt.

Glencore was overtaken by China’s CMOC Group as the world’s top cobalt producer last year, and the sharp cut to its output target marks a major revision to a planned expansion that could have helped it to regain its crown. Cobalt production fell 6% to 41 300 tons in 2023, while copper output fell 5% and zinc was 2% lower.

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The cobalt market has been swamped by rising supply from CMOC Group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as surging output in Indonesia. Demand for cobalt has also been under pressure due to a slowdown in the electric-vehicle market and sluggish sales of consumer electronics.

Glencore will trim cobalt output by reducing operating rates at the Mutanda mine in Congo, it said. That will also have an impact on copper production, it said.

The commodity giant also said it expects its trading business to have generated $3.5 billion in adjusted pretax earnings last year, narrowing previous guidance of $3.5 billion to $4 billion.

© 2024 Bloomberg

Harry Byrne

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