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Congo just gave the cobalt price another big boost

Miners and explorers knew that the Democratic Republic of Congo would be raising taxes and royalties, but were blindsided on Wednesday when lawmakers of the country voted in favour of an immediate lifting of a provision exempting licence holders of compliance with the new code for 10 years.

That means mines and projects run by companies including Glencore, Randgold Resources, China Molybdenum, Eurasian Resources Group, MMG and Ivanhoe Mines will immediately be subjected to higher royalties on metals including copper, cobalt and gold, as well as a new 50% tax on so-called super profits.

Super profits are being defined as income realized when commodity prices rise 25% above levels included in a project's bankable-feasibility study. Given the improvement the price of most metals over the past couple of years – copper is up 67% since January 2016 and cobalt +150% – having to deal with the new levy is more than just a possibility.

The new code also permits the DRC to raise the royalty on cobalt to 10% from 2% if the government categorizes the mineral as a "strategic substance."

Cobalt has become the hottest commodity in mining over an expected boom in demand from electric vehicles, most of which will be powered by nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries.

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