Congo mineral processors hit by copper price slump

Nicholas Bariyo |  

Article from:  Dow Jones Newswires

MORE than half of the mineral processing firms in Congo's Katanga province will close because of the slump in global copper prices.

Leopold Kabamba Kabwe, an official with the state mining company Gecamines, said most processing companies were no longer turning a profit as a result of the recent slump in metal prices and have since suspended operations.

Up to 40 companies have suspended operations since July, which is likely to put a dent in Congo's 2008 copper output, Mr Kabwe said.

Before July, up to 70 mineral processing firms were active in Katanga.

In March 2007, provincial authorities in Katanga slapped an export ban on untreated ores across the Zambian border, which attracted an influx of mineral treatment companies.

Although most of the processors are privately owned by small and unlisted mining companies, Toronto-listed Teal Mining and Exploration said on Monday it had scaled down output at its small-scale mining operation at the Lupoto copper project in Congo as a result of the current turmoil in the global metals markets.

Other companies with operations in Congo include Toronto-listed First Quantum Minerals, South Africa-based Metorex Ltd, Anvil Mining, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

Congo aims to restore annual copper output to around 400,000 tonnes by 2010, but analysts said the current global financial crisis, turmoil in the global metals markets as well as renewed insecurity in eastern Congo may hit the sector's revival.

Dow Jones Newswires

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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