Congo's Katanga province rejects ban on copper exports

Congo’s copper-rich Katanga province announced it won’t implement a government ban on unrefined copper and cobalt concentrate exports, as it doesn’t have capacity to process all the ore itself.

The order, signed by Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu on April 5, gives mining firms 90 days to clear their stocks before the ban comes into force. “Little by little, within the next three months, we need to no longer export concentrates,” the minister said Wednesday.

However Katanga copper-rich province’s governor, Moise Katumbi, told Reuters Thursday that the region simply lacks sufficient electricity for the processing plants, so he would not enforce the restriction announced by the central government.

The Central African country is trying to boost revenue from its mines, which produced about 650,000 tonnes of copper in 2012, by forcing companies to process their ore in the country, Kabwelulu said yesterday.

The nation was the world’s eighth-biggest copper producer and the largest cobalt producer last year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Image: Copper mining in Congo. Screenshot from the film Katanga Business (2009)