DRC to diversify mining into iron ore, bauxite

DRC to diversify mining into iron ore, bauxite

The Democratic Republic of the Congo aims to not only revive its traditional copper sector, but diversify by exploiting potentially huge iron ore and bauxite deposits, Mining Minister Martin Kabwelulu said on Monday.

“Diversification of production is a key strategy,” he told a base-metals conference in Namibia.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo was once one of the world`s biggest copper and cobalt producers, but output slumped during years of debilitating civil wars.

Only in the last few years have international investors streamed back to the mineral-rich nation as increasing stability and last year`s successful elections boosted confidence.

“The government of the DRC wants to start a strategy towards new metals, such as iron ore, chromium, nickel, and aluminium,” Kabwelulu said.

The country has deposits of bauxite, the raw material used for producing alumina and aluminium, in the west of the country near Inga, which has good access to the Atlantic coast, he said.

Probable reserves of alumina are estimated at 1 billion tonnes with of 39% average metal content, he said.

“To benefit from these deposits, the DRC needs to build smelters for aluminium and also a deep sea port,” Kabwelulu added, giving no other details.

Iron ore is found in the northeast of the country, with estimated reserves of 4 billion tonnes with average metal content of 60%, he said.

Work was still underway on the extent of nickel and chromium reserves in the country.

As part of the country`s mining strategy, Congo has decided to develop along with its neighbours four main regional “corridors” for transport of mining products and developing intergrated mining projects, Kabwelulu said.

Base metal ore deposits have been recently discovered in border regions with some of Congo`s nine neighbouring countries. “Common exploitation projects are obviously to be designed,” he added.

Congo has also forged a partnership with South Africa`s state Mintek research institute to help establish research centres in the DRC.

Information from: Reuters via www.mining-journal.com

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