Congo copper output falls 14% in H1 on lower prices

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KINSHASA (Reuters) – Copper output in Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s top producer, fell 14 percent in the first half of 2016 to 466,250 tonnes as a global price slump led some mines to suspend production, the central bank said on Tuesday.

The decline is hammering the economy of the country, which derives about 95 percent of its export earnings from extractive industries.

In June, the government slashed its budget by 22 percent in response to low commodity revenues.

Congo, among the world’s top copper producers, produced 990,000 tonnes of the metal in 2015, down from 1.03 million tonnes the year before.

In a weekly report, the central bank also said production of cobalt, the metal used in lithium-ion batteries and of which Congo is the world’s leading producer, slid by 13 percent to 35,267 tonnes over the same period.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange lost 25 percent of its value in 2015 and has recovered only slightly this year, while cobalt prices are also down about 14 percent from this time last year.

Glencore’s Katanga unit, one of the country’s largest copper and cobalt producers, announced an 18-month suspension of operations last September and thousands of jobs have been lost in the sector since then as companies cut costs.

 

(Reporting by Aaron Ross; editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Jason Neely)

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