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Why study these ores?

The demand for copper and cobalt is increasing and involves an increasing interest in the Katangan mining sector for purposes quoted as examples below.


Native copper, Kamoto mine.

Copper is used for electrical devices, including power transmission and generation, building wiring, telecommunication, plumbing fixtures and electrical and electronic products, account for the vast majority of total copper use. Copper is a good conductor of heat, so it is also used in motor vehicle radiators, air-conditioners and home heating systems. Copper is one of the most recycled metals keeping all its performance. Worldwide copper use has more than doubled since 1970, reaching 20 million tonnes at the end of 2005. Nowadays, 70% of demand is met by mining and 30% by recycling.

Global facts
  • The end-user part in the consumption of copper in 2007 is distributed according to different market sectors, the main on being construction with 35%, followed closely by the electronics with 32%, then it drops to 12% in the machinery sector, 11% for the transport and 10% for the consumer products.
  • Europe remains the leading region for copper use, representing 29% of world demand, with a growth of 14% during the period 1995-2005. However, it is becoming increasingly rivalled by China, which has had the world’s largest national market since 2002. China’s share reached 23% in 2005, against 9% ten years earlier. In February 2008, global copper use gained 6.8% in the 11-month period, boosted by a 37% increase in China. Usage in India gained 13%. Demand in China increased to 4.861 million tonne, 35% more than a year ago.


Heterogenite (CoO(OH)), the main cobalt ore of Katanga, Mindigi mine.

The largest use of cobalt is in superalloys, which are used to make parts for gas turbine aircraft engines. It is also used to make magnets, tyre adhesives and catalysts for the petroleum and chemical industries. The recent growth in demand for cobalt has been for rechargeable batteries used in mobile phones. The following figures show the evolution of the cobalt demand in the main end use domains from 1995 to 2005: the batteries evolved from ca. 5% to 22%, the superalloys decreased from 22-25 to 20-22%, the hard material went down from ca.15 to 11% and the catalysts stayed rather stable around 11%.

Global facts
  • Global demand for cobalt was split fairly evenly in 2001, with Europe leading the way, accounting for around 30% of consumption, followed by the Americas (29%) and Japan (20%), while the rest of the world represented less than 20% of demand. By 2006, the breakdown of world cobalt consumption had changed significantly, principally due to rapid growth in demand in emerging Asian economies. China' s share of world consumption of cobalt increased from 3% in 1997 to 20% in 2006.
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