DRC at the centre of world’s push to producer more copper for decarbonisation

Robert Friedland, CEO of Ivanhoe Mines

THE Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would be a key participant in the decarbonisation of the global economy owing to its copper resources, said Bloomberg News.

Citing the views of Robert Friedland, chairman of Ivanhoe Mines, the news service said the central African country’s copper resources were large enough to help support the additional copper production required for climate-friendly energy and electrification.

“If we came from Mars and we were sent in our flying saucer to orbit the Earth to find copper, we would definitely go to Katanga in the southern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the richest place on the planet for copper,” Friedland said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula venture mine just started producing copper in the DRC’s Katanga region. Friedland believes the mine could be ten times larger.

A first phase is set to produce 200,000 tons a year. Eventually output could exceed 800,000 tons given the “ocean” of available mineral, as long as the operation gets enough hydroelectricity, Friedland told Bloomberg News.

There are concerns about the supply of power to DRC projects as well as worries over the regulatory stability of the country’s fiscal and property ownership laws. There’s also a ban in place over the export of copper concentrates.

Friedland said these barriers could be overcome and likened the DRC to Saudi Arabia in the Fifties when it was an emergent oil producer.

The enormous task of meeting supercharged copper demand in the coming decades means developing more of DRC’s mineral potential will be just a part of the solution, said Bloomberg News. CRU estimates the industry will need to commit an additional $100bn to fill a supply gap of 5.9 million tons by 2031.