At least 1,300 jobs to go as ENRC steps up cost-cutting measures in Congo

Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation is eliminating at least 1,300 jobs at two companies it controls in Democratic Republic of Congo as a result of extremely low copper prices.

The job cuts, which may increase to 1,800 if the metal prices don’t recover, will affect its Boss Mining unit and subcontracting firm Congo Cobalt, Bloomberg reported.

The layoffs may increase to 1,800 if copper prices don’t recover soon.

Only yesterday, however, the world’s No. 1 copper producer — Chilean state-owned copper miner Codelco — warned prices are likely to stay at to around $2 to $2.10 a pound for at least two years.

If that estimation proves to be true, ENRC — owned by Eurasian Resources Group — could extend the job cuts across the five mining companies it has in Congo, Africa's largest copper producer and the world’s larger miner of cobalt.

Extractive industries account for roughly 98% of the nation's export revenues. Despite copper prices dropping 25% last year and the ongoing slump in crude, another key commodity for the Central African nation, its economy is forecast to expand 7.3% this year, the fastest in sub-Saharan Africa after Mozambique and Ethiopia, according to International Monetary Fund data.

The country's chamber of mines said last month that DRC’s copper output dropped in 2015 dropped for the first time in six years. The sharpest fall was in the fourth quarter when production declined 12% year-on-year, in part due to the suspension of some production at miner and trader Glencore's Katanga Mining unit.