State miner Gecamines has threatened to block exports or even take the mine away from its partner, China Molybdenum Co.
The state miner owns 20% of the Tenke Fungurume mine’s holding company.
It accuses CMOC of manipulating the project’s finances and owes as much as $5 billion in payments.
A Congolese court appointed a temporary administrator to manage the holding company while the shareholders sort out their differences.
Any disruption to operations or exports from Tenke Fungurume could send ripples through global metals markets.
Congo is one of the world’s top producers of copper and by far the largest supplier of cobalt.
Tenke alone accounts for about 14% of world cobalt production, according to calculations by Bloomberg using figures from Darton Commodities Ltd. CMOC bought control of the project from Phoenix-based Freeport McMoRan Inc. about five years ago. “I am the church in the middle of the village,” he says, referring to TFM’s mines.