Commodity trading company Trafigura has closed a $600m syndicated financing facility with the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) to develop cobalt and copper mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The funding would be used by Trafigura to complete its new mechanised mine at Mutoshi, the processing plant in Kolwezi, and expand the Etoile mine and processing plant in Lubumbashi.

TDB served as the mandated lead arranger of the financing.

Trafigura said in a statement: “Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo in particular are endowed with some of the largest reserves of minerals required to catalyse the global energy transition towards a net-zero world.

“An important component of this agreement involves the enhancement of ESG compliance and responsible sourcing awareness and implementation, in line with IFC Performance Standards and OECD Guidelines.”

The Mutoshi mine, which is planned to start production by the fourth quarter of 2023, is expected to become the world’s third-largest cobalt mine. It will have an annual production capacity of 16,000t of cobalt hydroxide and 48,000t of copper cathodes.

Michael Awori, TDB CEO said TDB and Trafigura have been jointly working over the past few years to meet the energy needs of TDB member states.

Trafigura nickel and cobalt trading head Socrates Economou said: “We look forward to welcoming additional international and African banks to the syndicate in subsequent rounds of refinancing for these vital developments for the supply of critical minerals and the DRC economy.”

The latest move follows Trafigura’s initial $600m financing agreement with Chemaf Resources and integrated copper and cobalt producer Chemaf SA.