Worker at Huayou Cobalt's Congo mine dies of coronavirus, governor says

JOHANNESBURG, July 23 (Reuters) - A worker at a Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co mine in Democratic Republic of Congo has died of COVID-19 and another confirmed COVID-19 case is being treated in hospital, provincial governor Jacques Kyabula Katwe told Reuters.

The employee was the first mineworker to die from COVID-19 in the province, the governor said. Production is continuing at Huayou’s subsidiary Congo Dongfang International Mining (CDM), and the governor said he sent a team to the site to screen and test contacts of the infected workers.

Congo is Africa’s top producer of copper and the world’s main source of cobalt, accounting for two-thirds of global supplies of the metal used in smartphones and electric car batteries.

Huayou, China’s top cobalt refiner, mines and sources cobalt in Haut-Katanga province through subsidiaries CDM and Minière de Kasombo (MIKAS).

Huayou produced 25,000 tonnes of cobalt in 2019, of which about 21,400 tonnes came from its Congo operations.

Huayou Cobalt declined to comment. (Reporting by Helen Reid in Johannesburg, Additional reporting by Min Zhang in Beijing; Editing by Kim Coghill)