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DRC delays export ban on copper, cobalt concentrate

Keywords: Tags  copper, cobalt concentrate, copper exports, cobalt exports, DRC, Martin Kabwelulu, Tenke Fungurume Mining, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Felix Njini


WINDHOEK, Namibia — The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will allow exports of copper and cobalt concentrates until Dec. 31, extending an export window to mining companies that previously was planned to end this month.

"The exports of copper and cobalt concentrates are prohibited. However, a moratorium of up (to Dec. 31, 2013, has been) given to all mining operators that produce copper concentrates and cobalt to comply with this ban," DRC mines minister Martin Kabwelulu said in a decree. "Mine operators producing concentrates of copper and cobalt can continue exporting during the period of the moratorium."

The decision was taken after "considering the difficulties which relate to the persistent energy deficit" in the DRC, Kabwelulu said.

A document seen by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin does not mention any change to the export tax on concentrates, which sources said this week they expect to increase to $100 per tonne from $60.

"They have released trucks that were stuck (at the) Division des Mines (awaiting export clearance)," a knowledgeable source said. "They will start to implement (the tax) from July 15."

A meeting to finalize the tax level took place July 10, after the decree was signed, market sources told Metal Bulletin.

The DRC’s plan to ban concentrate exports has driven a political wedge between the national government in Kinshasa and the governor of Katanga province, Moise Katumbi, who publicly rejected the ban and vowed not to enforce it, arguing that the Congo does not have enough electricity to process the finished product.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s Tenke Fungurume Mining in the DRC has advised its customers that its supply of cobalt hydroxide intermediate product has been adversely affected due to inadequate electricity supplies.

George Forrest International also said that it is unable to raise capacity at its Big Hill smelter due to inadequate electricity supplies.

Market jitters over the ban resulted in a 24-percent spike in the Metal Bulletin low-grade free-market price of cobalt to $13.80 to $15 per pound July 10.

A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.


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