Congo Plans to Build Special Economic Zone for Cobalt Users – by William Clowes (Bloomberg News – September 13, 2018)

The Democratic Republic of Congo plans to establish special economic zones for companies that manufacture goods from the country’s minerals, President Joseph Kabila said.

“There is a need to create special economic zones for the final users of Congolese natural resources,” Kabila said at a conference Wednesday in the southeastern city of Kolwezi. The area will allow producers of electric vehicles, smartphones and other goods to “install themselves in the DRC,” he said.

Congo is the world’s biggest source of cobalt, which is used to make rechargeable batteries in electric cars manufactured by companies including Volkswagen AG. The country also produces more than a quarter of the world’s tantalum, used in Apple iPhones and other smartphones.

Congo’s cobalt currently undergoes a first stage of processing in the country into concentrate or hydroxide, before being exported abroad, mainly to China, where it is transformed into the products required by battery makers.

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