(Yicai Global) March 19 -- Guangdong Silver Age Sci & Tech Co. plans to invest USD30 million in the Congo to build a cobalt hydroxide smelting plant capable of producing 3,000 tons a year as the company looks to advance its automotive batteries.
The factory will be located in Kolwezi, Lualaba in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Silver Age said in a statement. It will build the plant through a local unit, using the abundance of cobalt in the area to supply raw materials for processing and ship the final products back to China for new-energy vehicle batteries.
Silver Age has secured land use approval from the local government, and is undergoing procedures to obtain environmental approval and a construction permit, the statement said.
As some of the world's leading economies look to prohibit sales of traditionally-fueled vehicles, the battle is on for carmakers to advance NEVs and capitalize on the growing sector. Cobalt can increase the energy density of lithium batteries, the most common power source for electric cars, and improve the range of the vehicle they are placed in.
One of the best-known electric car makers, Tesla Inc., rose to fame by producing plug-in vehicles with unprecedented ranges. The Tesla Roadster 2020, a remake of its first car the Roadster, is set to have a range of 1,000 kilometers.
More than 60 percent of global cobalt ore products are made in the Congo. Switzerland-based Glencore Plc is the world's largest producer, followed up by China Molybdenum Co. China's refined cobalt production makes up more than 80 percent of the global total.
Silver Age is new to the cobalt processing sector. It issued a statement in October to say it had penned a two-year deal with Huaxin DR Congo Ltd., which would ensure the Chinese firm would receive an annual supply of raw materials equivalent to 3,000 tons of cobalt metal.