The Democratic Republic of Congo rescinded a ban on exporting its own copper concentrates late last week because of poor domestic refining and smelting capabilities.
Congo is the largest copper-producing nation in Africa, and according to reports from its central bank, the country produced 765,000mt of copper concentrates during the first half of the year, but it lacks the smelting capacity to process all the copper mined.
According to media reports, Chinese miner CNMC began smelting operations at the Lualaba Copper Smelter (LCS) in January, with a processing capacity of 400,000mt per year. With Congo’s mined copper volumes rising with nowhere to smelt and refine, the government decided to repeal the ban for an undetermined period.
The move will ease relations between Congo and Zambia, where most of the former’s copper concentrate is processed. Congo’s mining ministry reminded miners that if their copper concentrate isn’t compatible LCS, they will have to expeditiously develop on-site smelting capacity.
The copper export ban was levied in 2013 in order to encourage local companies to process the country’s natural resources.