Congo Miners Demand Power Reforms as Copper Output Declines

February 10, 2016 — 1:54 AM ESTUpdated on February 10, 2016 — 4:09 AM EST

  • Copper production fell 3% last year on power outages, prices

  • Electricity shortage grew to 950 megawatts from 542 megawatts

The Chamber of Mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo called for radical reforms in the country’s power industry after disrupted electricity supplies and lower copper prices reduced output in Africa’s biggest producer of the metal.

Copper production dropped 3 percent to 995,805 metric tons in 2015, the first time annual output dropped since 2009, the Chamber of Mines at the Federation des Entreprises du Congo said in an annual report distributed Wednesday in Cape Town. Output in the fourth quarter slumped 12 percent from the previous year, it said.

"Inadequate and highly non-transparent management by state-owned electricity supply company SNEL is the single biggest factor inhibiting the development of the mining industry" the chamber said. The shortage of electricity in Congo grew to 950 megawatts in 2015 from 542 megawatts a year earlier, Eric Monga, the head of the Katangan branch of Congo’s Chamber of Commerce, said at a conference in Cape Town on Wednesday.

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Bloomberg Business Feature

December 9, 2015 — 12:00 AM EST

A Congolese businessman plans to develop a hydropower project in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo to supply electricity to the region’s mines. By doing so he would establish a new model for electricity projects in the country.

Africa’s biggest copper producer is almost the size of Western Europe, though it only has installed power-generating capacity of 2,442 megawatts -- about the same as Panama’s. Only half that capacity is functioning.

Eric Monga, regional head of the Federation des Entreprises du Congo, a business lobby group known as the FEC, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Congolese government in September for the development of two sites in Haut-Katanga province. Most of the 1 million metric tons of copper the country produces comes from the southeastern region, which was previously known as Katanga.

“Power is the solution for Katanga and for the rest of the Congo,” Monga said. “More Congolese should be investing in it.

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