Democratic Republic of Congo has delayed until year-end a ban on exports of copper and cobalt concentrates designed to encourage miners to refine the red metal within its borders, a senior Mining Ministry official said last week.
Several emerging resource-rich nations have sought to discourage export of concentrates – the intermediate products that feed smelters and refiners – to shift production to higher-value finished metals.
Congo, one of Africa’s top copper producers, ordered the ban in April but gave mining companies 90 days to clear their stockpiles.
“The moratorium on the ban on exporting copper and cobalt concentrate has been prolonged until December 31,” said Valery Mukasa, chief of staff to Mining Minister Martin Kabwelulu.
Many in the industry say the ban is unrealistic as acute electricity shortages in Congo severely hamper processing activities.
Congo attempted to introduce similar rules in 2007 and 2010 but each time the decision was reversed.
The powerful governor of Congo’s copper-producing Katanga province, Moise Katumbi, has said he will not enforce the measure.
The ban is unlikely to affect major producers such as Freeport McMoRan and commodities trader Glencore , which already process the bulk of their copper inside the country.
Kazakh miner ENRC, which exports concentrate to be processed across the border in Zambia, is likely to be among the companies hardest hit by the ban. It is commissioning a new mine, Frontier, that will produce 40,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate in 2013.
Other miners currently exporting concentrate include Mawson West and Tiger Resources