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Democratic Republic of Congo’s State miner Gecamines said on Monday it would not approve the sale of cobalt miner Chemaf and its Congolese assets to Chinese miner Norin Mining.

Gecamines leases these assets to Chemaf, which on Thursday said it had agreed a sale to a unit of Chinese State-backed China North Industries Corp (Norinco) to settle debts largely funded by Chemaf’s long-time partner, commodities trader Trafigura.

In a statement, Gecamines said it had the right of approval and its board had voted to reject the deal.

Responding in its own statement, Chemaf said it had not heard directly from Gecamines about its sale plans and hoped to engage further with the state miner in order to secure its approval.

The family-owned copper and cobalt miner offered itself for sale last year due to a cash crunch that was stalling the expansion of its Etoile and Mutoshi projects in DR Congo as cobalt prices slumped.

China’s miners, most of which are State-backed, have become the biggest investors in DR Congo as the world’s second-largest economy aggressively pursues copper and cobalt supplies for its rapidly expanding electric vehicle industry.