Chinese EV battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Company Limited (CATL) has signed an agreement with China Molybdenum Company (CMOC) to jointly develop a major cobalt and copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the world’s largest cobalt-producing country.

CATL has agreed to invest US$137.5m in a 25% stake in CMOC subsidiary KFM Holding which acquired a 95% of the shares in the DRC Kisanfu mine last December. The mine is said to have 365 million tonnes of ore resources with a production potential of more than 6.2m tonnes of copper and 3.1m tonnes of cobalt.

The deal is part of a broader strategic partnership between the two companies with CATL wanting to secure its future access to cobalt and lithium, key materials used in the EV batteries.

The price of cobalt has risen by over 50% since the beginning of the year.

CATL chairman Zeng Yuqun said the two companies would combine their strengths "to promote the development of the new energy vehicle industry".

They plan to cooperate in nickel projects in Indonesia and elsewhere and will explore further acquisitions and investment opportunities to increase production of the metals.