Trafigura’s Congo partner Chemaf could seek buyers amid cash crunch

By Sonia Rolley and Felix Njini

(Reuters) -Chemaf SA, a miner and long time-partner of commodities trader Trafigura, is up for sale as it deals with a cash crunch, according to a document seen by Reuters on Thursday.

The privately-owned copper and cobalt miner has asked for offers to wholly acquire the company, it said in the Sept. 8 document that invites potential investors to bid.

A Chemaf spokesperson declined to comment.

Chemaf said in the document that it has $690 million in debt and about $590 million of the borrowings were arranged by Trafigura.

“We are supportive of Chemaf’s efforts to conclude a successful sale process,” Trafigura’s head of battery metals Daniel von Arx told Reuters via email.

Investors had until Oct. 17 to tender non-binding offers, after which Chemaf could invite some bidders to conduct due diligence.

Chemaf’s woes arose after it sought to expand output at copper and cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Chemaf requires as much as $300 million to complete expansion of its Etoile and Mutoshi copper and cobalt mines, it said in the document.

The projects, which are 85% complete, have been hit by high inflation, weakening cobalt prices “and existing debt not being available for full draw,” Chemaf said in the document.

The miner, which operated in the Congo for about two decades, said it has invested $570 million in the second phase of the Etoile project and Mutoshi which could result in the mines producing about 75,000 tons of copper and 25,000 tons of cobalt.

(Reporting by Sonia Rolley, Writing by Felix Njini; Editing by Rod Nickel and Diane Craft)