Copper mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Katanga, or Shaba, copperbelt in the DRC is a belt about 70 kilometres (43 mi) wide and 250 kilometres (160 mi) long between Lubumbashi and Kolwezi formed in rocks of the Katanga Supergroup. There are 72 economic deposits of copper/cobalt and four large mining centers. Taken together, the DRC and Zambian copper belts are the second largest global reserve of copper, about 1/3 the size of the Chilean reserve.
The DRC copper belt includes some of the highest grade copper deposits in the world. In some reserves the grades are above 5%. The ore also has high grades of cobalt and may hold 34% of the world's cobalt reserves. There are large deposits that have yet to be explored using modern technology, so the size of the reserves may be understated. Demand is growing, led by China.
Prehistoric mines in the Katanga belt have been found at Dikuluwe near Musonoi, Tenke-Fungurume, Kambove, Luisha, Ruashi and Etoile, and at the Naviundo and Luano archaeological sites. Monseigneur de Hemptinne watched Yeke people working at Dikuluwe as late as 1924. They would work in the dry season, stopping when the first rains arrived. The mining camp was near a stream where millet could be planted. Women and children collected malachite from the surface, while men used iron picks to excavate pits and shafts, using fire to crack the rocks when needed. The mines were between 10 metres (33 ft) and 15 metres (49 ft) deep with galleries up to 20 metres (66 ft) long. The ore would be sorted and then taken to a nearby stream for concentration before being smelted.
Commercial mining began in the 1920s, with laborers being forcibly recruited. The Union Miniere constantly struggled to prevent recruits fleeing from the mines, sometimes taking refuge in Angola. Workers were mistreated and suffered badly from disease brought on by the working conditions. The lowest death rate at the Panda, Lubumbashi, Kisanga and Musonoi work sites in 1928 was four men per month. Today, mine worker exploitation is still prevalent and instances of slave labor, and especially child labor, are still observed in the mining industry according to the 2014 U.S. Department of Labor's List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.
Between 1970 and 1988 copper metal production was roughly constant at between 400,000 and 500,000 tonnes. Production then dropped steeply to under 50,000 tonnes annually between 1992 and 2001. Since then, production has steadily grown, reaching about 300,000 tonnes in 2008.
The government of the DRC began to review about 60 mining contracts in 2008, and started to release their findings to the mining companies in February 2008. For example, TEAL, a subsidiary of African Rainbow Minerals, was asked by letter to submit their feasibility study for their Kalumines property to identify the real contribution of each of the parties "in order to achieve a fair attribution of shares". The letter said the feasibility study should present a planning of "realisation of social actions with a visible impact". It also said that the state-owned Gécamines should actively participate in the daily management of the operation.
In August 2009, the DRC government revoked First Quantum Minerals' license to operate the Kolwezi tailings project, alleging "unreasonable behaviour" in negotiations to change the contract. First Quantum had spent $750 million on acquiring and developing the property. First Quantum took out an action against the DRC government in the International Chamber of Commerce Court of Arbitration. In May 2010 a Congolese court ruled that FQM's Lonshi and Frontier copper mines had been awarded illegally and that they should revert to state-owned Sodimico. According to FQM the ruling was due to FQM's decision to contest the expropriation of their Kolwezi project, which was later sold to the Kazakh mining company Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation.
Many companies are involved in different aspects of copper mining in the DRC, and the names change constantly due to start-ups, acquisitions and divestitures. The list of companies participating in the industry that follows is incomplete.
Gécamines (La Générale des Carrières et des Mines), is a state-owned mining company in the DRC. Its principal products are copper (which often accounted for 50% of export earnings), cobalt and zinc. Copper mines in which Gécamines has a major interest include Kambove, Kipushi and Kolwezi. Gécamines also owns a copper smelter at Lubumbashi and a hydrometallurgical plant at Shituru.
The Industrial Development and Mining Corporation of Zaire (Société de développement industriel et minier du Zaire - SODIMIZA) is an operating company for copper and its derivatives in Katanga. The company also operates cobalt and zinc. It was created in 1967 and acquired by Gécamines in 1987.
Anvil Mining is a copper producer that has been operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 2002. The company headquarters are based in Montreal, Canada. Anvil is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Australian Stock Exchange. As of September 2011 its major shareholder was Trafigura Beheer. Anvil's main asset is the Kinsevere an open pit mine and Heavy Media Separation plant
Metorex, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, has assets in the DRC that include the existing Kinsenda Mine, the new Ruashi copper and cobalt mine, and the Dilala East and Lubembe deposit greenfields sites.
Copper Resources Corporation is a subsidiary of Meterox. As of November 2011 it held a 92.5% interest in the Hinoba-an Porphyry Copper project in the Philippines, and a 75% interest in Miniere de Musoshi et Kinsenda (MMK). MMK in turn owns the flooded Kinsenda and Musoshi copper mines in Katanga. MMK was formerly a subsidiary of Forrest Group. As of 30 November 2005 it became a subsidiary of Copper Resources Corporation. MMK also holds the Lubembe high-grade deposit.
Afrimines Resources SPRL, based in Democratic Republic of the Congo, owns various mining resources. In May 2008 Tiger Resources announced that it had secured the rights to explore several new and highly prospective tenements in Katanga in partnership with Afrimines Resources and Katanga Minerals Holdings. Katanga Mining produces copper and cobalt at the Kamoto Mine, which also includes the Kamoto concentrator, the Luilu metallurgical plant, the Kamoto underground mine and two oxide open pit resources in the Kolwezi district. A joint venture of Katanga Mining (75%) and Gécamines (25%) began mining Tilwezembe, an open-pit copper and cobalt mine, in 2007. As of 2011 Katanga Mining was 74.8% owned by Glencore. The Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) has a significant presence, particularly with the Mukono Mine asset, since its takeover of the Central African Mining and Exploration Company (CAMEX).
|Name||Coordinates||Private partners||Annual capacity|
|Dikulushi mine||Mawson West.||20,000 tonnes copper (2008).|
|Dikuluwe Mine||China Railway Engineering Corporation|
|Etoile Mine||Chemaf||11,353 tonnes copper (2008)|
|Frontier Mine||Sodifor||84,000 tonnes copper (2008).|
|Kabolela Mine||Abandoned: Worked for cobalt during the 1930s|
|Kalakundi Mine||Africo Resources|
|Kalumines||African Rainbow Minerals||10,000 tonnes copper (2008).|
|Kamfundwa Mine||Harambee Mining, Sogemin||400,000 tonnes copper in ore and 48,000 tonnes cobalt in ore (2008).|
|Kamoto Mine||Katanga Mining||46,000 tonnes copper and 4,000 tonnes cobalt (2008).|
|Kamoya Central||79,000 tonnes copper in ore and 7,000 tonnes cobalt in ore (2008).|
|Kamoya South||36,000 tonnes copper in ore and 11,000 tonnes cobalt in ore (2008).|
|Kananga Mine||Katanga Mining|
|Kinsenda Mine||Metorex||650,000 tonnes of 45% copper concentrate (planned).|
|Kinsevere||Anvil Mining||60,000 tons of copper (estimate)|
|Kipoi Mine||Tiger Resources||100,000 tonnes of copper metal (target)|
|Lonshi Mine||Sodifor||50,000 tonnes copper (2008).|
|Luishia mine||China Railway Group, Forrest Group
African Metals Corporation
|Luiswishi mine||Forrest Group||12,000 tons copper, 4,000 tons of cobalt|
|Lupoto Mine||Tiger Resources|
|M'sesa Mine||Abandoned during the 1970s|
|Mashamba East||Katanga Mining||Suspended|
|Mukondo Mine||CAMEC||100,000 ton/year copper cathode, 8,000 ton/per year cobalt in concentrate|
|Mutanda Mine||Glencore International||110,000 tonnes of copper metal and 23,000 tonnes of cobalt|
|Mutoshi Mine||Anvil Mining||16,500 tonnes copper (2008).|
|Ruashi Mine||Metorex||10,000 tonnes copper and 1,000 tonnes of Cobalt (2008).|
|Shangolowe||See Kambove mines|
|Shituru||Touch Lucky Investments||38,000 tonnes of LME grade cathode copper (potential).|
|Tenke Fungurume mine||Freeport-McMoRan, Lundin Mining||110,000,000 kg of copper metal and 8,200,000 kg of cobalt annually.|
|Tilwezembe||Glencore International, ENRC.||Suspended as of November 2008.|
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- Media related to African Copperbelt at Wikimedia Commons
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