An aerial view of
Metorex’s Ruashi project
at Kolwezi, showing
where new copper and
cobalt exploration
is underway
 
Lubumbashi, DRC – MININGREVIEW.COM — 26 May 2008 – The mineral-rich Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has threatened to extend restrictions on mineral exports to include a ban on copper concentrate if minerals companies do not move to increase local processing.

Mines Minister Bartelemy Mumba Gama is quoted as saying that an engineering team would be checking on the progress of construction of processing plants by copper mining companies. “If we see that they haven’t yet begun to construct these smelters, we will also stop copper (concentrate) exports” he told Reuters by telephone from the provincial capital. He did not say when the copper concentrate ban might take effect.

Earlier this month, Katanga Governor Moise Katumbi halted exports of cobalt concentrate, saying mining companies were flouting a year-old ban on exporting raw ore. Katumbi said only companies that had already begun to build smelters would be allowed to re-start exports, after being inspected by a team of engineers.

Reuters reports that the DRC closed facilities belonging to Congo Dongfang International Mining – a subsidiary of China’s Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co. – last week, accusing it of breaking the ban on exporting raw ore.

According to statistics recently published by the Central Bank of Congo, Katanga exported close to 100 000 tonnes of copper last year.