Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) focused copper-miner First Quantum Minerals will soon begin transporting copper concentrate from its Frontier mine to smelter facilities in Zambia, after a government order halted the shipments last month, the company said on Wednesday.
The firm said that it had received a letter dated November 28, 2007, from the governor of the DRC's Katanga province, Moise Katumbi, ordering the closure of the DRC border to the export of copper ores and exploration core samples by First Quantum from the Lonshi mine to Zambia, and 'advising' the company not to ship copper concentrate from Frontier to Zambia.
“Consequently the Frontier concentrate storage shed has filled up with product resulting in plant operations having to be suspended on December 11,” First Quantum said.
However, after working with the government to resolve issues including "measurement procedures for concentrate movement on the DRC side of the border and communicating the export procedures already agreed to with the relevant DRC government authorities to the governor's office", the company will "shortly" begin transporting concentrate from Frontier to Zambia.
"Plant operations at Frontier are expected to recommence in a few days after reduction of the concentrate stockpile,” the firm said in a statement distributed by Marketwire.
The restart of ore shipments from the company's Lonshi mine was awaiting final authorisation from the DRC authorities.
At Lonshi, issues raised by the governor's office included communicating details about the mining of the final remaining oxide ore and the mine's various social programmes.
Mining operations at both mines had been unaffected by the order, First Quantum said.
Jitters rippled through the mining community in November, after a report was leaked to the media claiming that almost all of the 60-plus mining contracts in the DRC be affected by a government review into the industry.
The leak followed a government announcement earlier this year that it had suspended all negotiations relating to the new mining agreements and that it would set up a commission to review all existing agreements.