Congo’s Katanga Governor Snubs Export Ban on Copper Concentrate

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s copper-rich Katanga province said it won’t implement a government ban on exporting copper and cobalt concentrate because it doesn’t have capacity to process all the ore itself.

The order to halt exports, signed April 5 by Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu, was rejected by Katanga because the copper- rich region lacks sufficient electricity for the processing plants, Governor Moise Katumbi said today by telephone.

“When you have partners, you consult with them,” he said from provincial capital Lubumbashi. “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’ll continue to export concentrates until there’s enough electricity.”

Many of Congo’s copper miners, including Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX), Glencore International Plc (GLEN), Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. and Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN), saw their stock prices fall yesterday after the ban was announced. The shares were also hurt by sliding copper prices as Chinese demand growth slows.

Kabwelulu will travel to Lubumbashi tomorrow, the minister said in a mobile-phone message, without elaborating. Katumbi said the two would meet to discuss the order.

Congo is seeking to increase revenue from its mines, which produced about 600,000 metric tons of copper last year, by forcing companies to process their ore in the country, Kabwelulu said yesterday. The Central African country was the world’s eighth-largest producer of copper and the biggest producer of cobalt last year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Mines Ministry previously banned the export of concentrated minerals in April 2010. That month, Katumbi allowed mining companies to export concentrated minerals if they paid a tax of $60 a ton.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael J. Kavanagh in Kinshasa on Mkavanagh9@bloomberg.net.

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