The Democratic Republic of Congo has issued indefinite waivers to mining companies in the country in a bid to enable these firms to export banned items such cobalt hydroxide, carbonate, tin, Tungsten and Tantalum concentrates.
The country’s mines ministry made the announcement at the weekend but added that the duration of waivers for copper concentrates has not been determined. Mining companies are expected to submit proposals for the waivers from next week. The last waiver license expired on Saturday, August 22, 2020.
Congo banned export of many concentrates to encourage the development smelters in the country and boost earnings from it but the country has not been able to meet the demand of its own production capacity.
Mining companies in Congo and smelters in Zambia will be pleased with this development due to the vast availability of the metals to be produced for processing.
Local capacity is still limited despite foreign investments in the sector. For instance, China Nonferrous metal Mining Group, CNMC launched a scale smelting company in January 2020 with the creation of the Lualaba Copper Smelter – LCS. It has the capacity of processing 400,000 tonnes of copper concentrates while producing 120,000 tones of copper blisters every year.
The ministry adds that miners whose copper concentrates are not compatible with LCS will not develop their own smelters within their mining site. This move has been seen as a way of further improving local capacity. This decision was agreed upon by all miners present.
Currently, the DRC has 765,00 tonnes production capacity of copper in the first six month of 2020 according to the Central Bank of the Congo (DRC central bank), an increase of 13.4% year-on-year.
Congo has produced 38,816 tonnes of cobalt in the first half of 2020, this increased by 6% year-on-year according to the central bank figures. However, the production of “3Ts” concentrates – tin ore cassiterite, tungsten ore wolframite, and tantalum ore coltan – plunged.
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