Peru seen losing title of no. 2 copper producer soon to Congo

Tía María copper project in Peru’s Arequipa region. (Image courtesy of Southern Copper.)

Peru is expected to lose its mantle as the world’s No. 2 copper-producing nation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo by 2026-2027, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

“Already the Democratic Republic of the Congo has practically matched Peru’s production,” Ruben Arratia, a director at the firm, told an industry event in Lima on Tuesday. “In the next few years they will share second place.”

Peru became the biggest producer after neighboring Chile in 2016 on the back of a surge of new projects. But production and investment has been curtailed in recent years by political and social instability. At the same time, Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. is ramping up the Kamoa-Kakula mine, helping return the DRC to copper heavyweight status.

While Peru has 18 mining projects in its pipeline, only one of those may be developed in the short term, Arratia said. “If Peru doesn’t develop its projects, then it will no longer be the world’s second-copper producer,” he said.

Adding to those pressures, Arratia said the DRC has higher ore grades than Peru, meaning more copper can be extracted from a lower volume of rock.

(By Marcelo Rochabrun)


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