Congo Copper Output to Rise 25%

Source:

"In five years' time, Katanga will produce 1.5 million tons."

Exports from Congo's southern copperlands will rise 25% to over 1 million tons (Mt.) next year due to renewed investor confidence following a government mining contract review, the top official in the province told Reuters.

Moise Katumbi, governor of Katanga Province, said companies and their backers were boosting spending following the conclusion of the review last month, which resulted in Freeport-McMoRan conceding a small share of its huge Tenke Fungurume copper project to the state.

The deal ended years of uncertainty in Congo's mining sector, and analysts widely viewed the outcome as positive for the company, which retained the bulk of its controlling interest in the project.

"After Tenke got its revisitation, even the people who had a bit of fear are putting in money. Everyone is financing now, even the banks," Katumbi said.

Katanga, Congo's sole copper-producing region and source of about 5% of the world's supply of the metal, is on track to produce 800,000 tons (Kt.) this year, he said.

"There are plenty, plenty projects," Katumbi added. "End of next year we are going to reach 1 million tons. In five years' time, we are going to reach 1.5 million," he said.

Exports in 2011 will include 700 Kt. of metal and 300 Kt. of concentrate, he said.

The forecast far exceeds a projection from the mines ministry earlier this year showing copper exports would reach just over 516 Kt. in 2011a figure Katumbi said is now out of date due to new estimates from firms.

Valery Mukasa, chief of staff in the mines ministry, could not confirm Katumbi's figures but said data were being reviewed as forecasts were constantly being raised by companies.

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