- Yet another copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will suspend its production due to the dramatic fall in world copper prices. Today, it was announced that the Dikulushi mine is to close down, producing further job losses.
The Australian-based company Anvil Mining, among the leading copper miners in the DRC and with operations in Zambia, has announced that its 90 percent-owned Dikulushi mine will be closed with immediate effect.
"In view of the current low copper price," the company said it had "begun the process of suspending concentrate production, postponing underground development work and initiating a care and maintenance program at its Dikulushi mine in the Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo until the price of copper recovers."
"The Dikulushi total cash cost per pound of copper is presently well above the current copper price," according to Anvil President and CEO Bill Turner. "As a result, it has been decided to place the Dikulushi mine on care and maintenance," Mr Turner added.
As a consequence of the global recession, world copper prices have dropped by more than 60 percent since they reached a record in July of about US$ 3,200 a tonne. With the new copper price level, Anvil estimated it would make losses of around US$ 2 million per month if maintaining operations at Dikulushi.
Several copper mines have been put on ice as a result of the global crisis, with Congolese mines being overrepresented on that list. While Congolese mines often are high-yielding and productive, the poor infrastructure in the vast country and political costs make them expensive to operate.
Last month, several DRC copper mines were temporarily closed down with the same explanation. The Central African Mining and Exploration Company (CAMEC) in November notified investors and the press that all its operations in the DRC now were to halt.
The London-based mining company, which is among the main actors in the DRC, said its facilities in Mukondo, Kakanda and Luita would be closed down. These mines produce copper and cobalt, but they would be left in a state that allowed for "rapid mobilisation," the company promised.
The DRC produces about half of the world's cobalt and 4 percent of the copper. Mining is a major employer in the war-torn and impoverished country, causing the government to fear that up to 300,000 people could lose their jobs within a few months.
Minister of Mines in the mineral-rich Katanga province, Barthelemy Mumba Gama, today was quoted as saying that 200,000 jobs in his province probably already had been lost as a consequence of the global crisis. He urged central authorities in Kinshasa to relieve the tax burden in the mining sector
But also internationally, copper production has been scaled down. Australian miner Straits Resources recently announced it was scaling back its copper production target and postponing expansion work because of the drop in prices.
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