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Glencore Calls Force Majeure on Cobalt Exports as Durban Flooding Worsens Chinese Shipping Crisis

Chart illustrating the unprecedented pileup of ships waiting to enter Shanghai harbor. This logistics crisis is amplified by the situation in Durban.

Glencore, the world’s largest cobalt producer, announced that it can’t fulfill its delivery commitments for cobalt hydroxide out of the Democratic Republic of Congo, due to severe flooding in the South African port city of Durban. The majority of cobalt exports from the DRC depart the continent via Durban. Rail lines and logistics facilities at the port were damaged by unprecedented rainfall, which also killed about 450 people.

The Swiss mining company declared force majeure because of these port disruptions, rather than due to any production issues in the DRC. The port is a link in the global cobalt supply chain, which is crucial to making electric vehicle batteries. Most cobalt exports from the DRC (including that produced by Glencore) are exported to China, which houses the majority of the world’s refining capacity.

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