A court in the Democratic Republic of Congo has chosen an administrator to temporarily operate the Tenke Fungurume copper and cobalt mine, following a dispute with owner China Molybdenum over the mine’s reserves, reported Reuters.

The appointment of a temporary administrator by the Tribunal of Commerce in the south-eastern city of Lubumbashi follows the request of Congo state mining company Gecamines, which owns a 20% stake in the project.

In December, Gecamines made an appeal to the judges to remove decision-making powers of the existing leadership of the mine and appoint a temporary administrator.

In response, the court has now appointed Sage Ngoie Mbayo as administrator for the mine for a six-month period. He was recently appointed by Gecamines as its representative to the mine.

Mbayo will assume China Molybdenum-appointed CEO Jun Zhou’s management responsibilities.

The appeal follows the establishment of a commission by Congo in August 2021 to re-evaluate Tenke mine’s reserves and resources to ‘fairly lay claim to their rights’.

This commission was also responsible for validating the Chinese owner’s compliance with project-related contractual obligations.

Covering an area exceeding 1,500km², the Tenke Fungurume mine is said to be one of the highest-grade copper and cobalt mines worldwide.

Last year, it was reported China Molybdenum will invest $2.5bn to boost copper and cobalt output by 200,000t and 17,000t, respectively, at the Tenke mine.

Scheduled for completion in 2023, the project will see the construction of three ore production lines.