DRC issues indefinite waiver to 2013 export bans on cobalt, copper and other minerals

MINERS in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been granted an indefinite waiver to an export ban on cobalt hydroxide and carbonite as well as tin, tungsten and tantalum concentrates, said Reuters.

The DRC banned exports of these minerals in 2013 in an effort to encourage miners to process and refine ore in the country. But a lack of capacity resulted in the country issuing periodic waivers to its own ban.

“After a long debate, the mines minister Willy Kitobo Samsoni, decided … to grant an indefinite waiver for cobalt hydroxides and carbonates, the tin concentrates of Alphamin, and concentrates of 3Ts [tin, tungsten, and tantalum],” the ministry said in a statement.

The decision will come as a relief to cobalt, copper, and tin mining companies in Congo as well as smelters and refiners in Zambia, which process copper from Congo, and in China, where much of Congo’s cobalt is processed, said Reuters.

The mines ministry also announced an export ban waiver on copper concentrate, but said the duration of that waiver was still to be determined, with companies expected to submit proposals a week from now, said the newswire.

Congo produced 38,816 tons of cobalt in the first half of 2020, up 6% year-on-year according to the central bank. Production of “3Ts” concentrates – tin ore cassiterite, tungsten ore wolframite, and tantalum ore coltan – plunged, however.