DRC bans ore exports
Windhoek – The DRC has given mining companies operating in that country 90 days to clear up inventories before it completely bans the export of unrefined copper and cobalt.
DRC Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu gave mining companies the ultimatum to clear stockpiled concentrates before implementing the new regulations, which the government says are aimed at forcing firms to ship value added products.
“We want companies to export mineral products with great added value,” Miniter Kabwelulu said.
A Ministry of Mines directive co-signed by Kabwelulu and Finance Minister Patrice Kitebi Kibol Mvul bars companies from exporting copper and cobalt concentrates after the 90 days have lapsed.
Companies have been given a directive to register all their stock piled tonnages with the Mines Ministry.
The DRC says this will enable it to calculate mineral royalties and other taxes associated with mineral elements such as silver, contained in concentrates.
The directive also sets conditions for what government terms “deductible expenses” in exports of concentrates.
“This is very important in calculations of mineral royalties. Moreover taking into account the political position of the government which is aimed at encouraging exportation of mineral products which have been value added,” the directive said.
“The provisions of this inter-ministerial directive are to prohibit the exportation of concentrates of copper and cobalt after 90 days.
“A window of 90 days has been put in place to allow all operators mining copper and cobalt to export all stockpiles.”
Companies have been directed to provide details of stockpiled tonnages of concentrates, and exports will be subject to payment of specified fees.
The government has warned that companies which violate the temporary export suspension will face severe sanctions.
Kinshasa’s announcement had by last week caused a fallout with Moise Katumbi, the powerful Governor of Katanga Province, the DRC’s copper heartland.
Katanga is home to international mining majors such as Glencore International, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Jinchuan, Tiger Resources, Chemaf, George Forrest International and the state-owned Gecamines, among others.
Katumbi, who has in 2007 and 2010 briefly banned exports of copper and cobalt concentrates, last week rejected the ban arguing he had not been consulted.
In statements which an analyst observed is a “clear power play” with the Kinshasa government, Katumbi said Katanga Province would not enforce the ban directive.
“As the government of Katanga, we reject this decision and we will continue exporting. Congo doesn’t have enough electricity to process the finished product,” Katumbi told the local media.
“When you have partners, you consult with them. If you don’t have enough electricity you can’t process the concentrates, and as the state we need to furnish electricity to miners. They will continue to export concentrates until there is enough electricity,” Katumbi added.
The ban on exports of concentrates comes as the DRC overhauls its 2002 mining code to increase state participation and raise mineral taxes.
The DRC produced around 620 000 tonnes of copper last year, making it Africa’s second-biggest producer of the red metal after Zambia.