Copper Cobalt Africa, hosted by the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM), took place from 10 to 12 July 2018. The conference was held in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, Zambia, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the mighty Victoria Falls. Recent strong rises in the prices of copper and cobalt, coupled with increasing international interest in developments in the African Copperbelt, attracted over 300 delegates, representing 22 countries.
Highlights were the outstanding Keynote speakers who opened the plenary sessions each morning. First up was Sokwani Chilembo, CEO of the Zambian Chamber of Mines, who gave an interesting view of a future of Zambian mining that would not only focus on copper, but also include cobalt, lithium, graphite, and other strategic metals. Caspar Rawles, of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, gave a fascinating analysis of the role of cobalt in the rapidly emerging electric vehicle battery market. On Day 2, Matt Pascal, COO of First Quantum Minerals, gave a provocative and thoughtful analysis of the challenges of mining in Africa, focussing on Zambia in particular. “Who moved my cobalt stocks” was the title of an insightful presentation by Lara Smith, founder of Core Consulting. The third day saw Steve Amos, Ivanhoe Mines, present a very interesting overview of the Giant Kamoa–Kakula project in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the largest and highest-grade undeveloped copper deposit in the world. Bernadette Currie, of Ausenco, concluded with an update of the state-of-the-art with respect to urban mining, particularly as concerns recycling of battery materials.
The technical programme comprised 58 papers that showcased advances in exploration, mining, and processing technologies. With DRC now producing more than two-thirds of the world’s cobalt, many presentations described cobalt projects in development, ramping up, or recently commissioned. Safety, training, economics, and project management topics were also covered.
The conference was enhanced by a small technical exhibition. Networking opportunities were also plentiful in relaxed environments during a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River and traditional Zambian-style boma dinner.
Two short courses were presented prior to the conference. Hydrometallurgical Processing of Cobalt proved highly topical, attracting more than 60 attendees. The well-respected Introduction to the SAMVAL and SAMREC Reporting Codes was offered for the first time on the Copperbelt.
A post-conference technical visit to Kansanshi Mine, the flagship copper mine in Zambia and eighth largest in the world, rounded out a very successful and enjoyable week.
CuCoAfrica Dignitaries: L-R:
Mooya Lumamba (Director of Mines and Minerals, Zambia), Jackson Sikamo (Chairperson and Country Manager at Chibuluma Mines Plc, Zambia), Sehliselo Ndlovu (President: SAIMM), Paul Chanda (Permanent Secretary: Zambia Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development), Sokwani Chilembo (CEO Zambian Chamber of Mines), Darius Muma (Zambian Branch Chair: SAIMM), Kathy Sole (Conference Chair: Copper Cobalt Africa 2018).