Congo Postpones Ban on Mineral Exports Amid Power Shortages

The Democratic Republic of Congo postponed a ban on exports of concentrated copper and cobalt until 2015 because the country doesn’t have enough electricity to process the minerals, Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu said.

The ban was supposed to go into effect on Jan. 1 to force mining companies to add value to their minerals before shipment. Companies will still need to pay a $100-per-metric-ton tax on concentrated exports, Kabwelulu said by phone from Brussels.

“There is a very big problem with energy and we didn’t want to penalize economic operators,” Kabwelulu said. “We’ll spend the year trying to address the problem and wanted to reassure operators.”

Congo was the world’s largest producer of cobalt in 2012, and the eighth-biggest producer of copper. Glencore Xstrata Plc and Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. are the largest producers in the country. Congo’s 2013 copper output is expected to rise by 20 percent to more than 750,000 tons.

Miners in the province of Katanga have an electricity deficit of more than 300 megawatts, according to the Energy Ministry.

The $100 concentrates tax, which is shared between Katanga and the national government, will be used to improve infrastructure, Kabwelulu said.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of mined nickel, on Jan. 12 implemented a similar ban on mineral-ore exports. The rule is part of a policy in Southeast Asia’s largest economy to boost state revenue by turning Indonesia from an exporter of raw commodities into a manufacturer of higher-value products.

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