Congo sees mining revenue falling 20% on coronavirus impact
INTERNATIONAL - The Democratic Republic of Congo anticipates a 20% drop in mining revenue amid project delays and lower mineral prices as a result of Covid-19, Mines Minister Willy Kitobo Samsoni said.
Several of Congo’s miners have had to delay construction of new production facilities meant to comply with upcoming restrictions on the export of copper and cobalt concentrates because of the global pandemic, Kitobo said in a online conference.
“Almost all these projects have been postponed until next year,” he said. “In the short term we’ve lost certain projects that should have finished and given us a little more production.”
Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt and Africa’s biggest exporter of copper. The mines ministry said in February that by mid-2020 it would begin enforcing rules that prohibited exports of mineral concentrates in order to add more value to Congo’s mineral shipments by refining them in-country.
The government will still allow exports of cobalt hydroxide for now because of a lack of electricity in the country to power its refineries, Kitobo said.
While revenues are down, production of copper and cobalt hasn’t been greatly affected by the pandemic, Kitobo said. Congo’s biggest miners are Glencore Plc and China Molybdenum Co. Ltd.
Congo’s government is also considering tax breaks and may try to help miners who need to declare force majeure because of the impact of the virus, Kitobo said. It’s also looking for ways to help artisanal miners who’ve seen a large drop in demand for their minerals, he said. Artisanal miners are usually responsible for as much as 20% of the country’s cobalt production.
Congo has had no known cases of Covid-19 at its copper and cobalt mines, which have been operating under strict lockdown procedures.