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Peruvian copper and a latent African threat

Peruvian copper and a latent African threat

This week, it was learned that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could displace Peru as the world’s second largest copper producer in no more than five years. The information, shared by Wood Mackenzie, indicates that the extraction of the African red metal almost equaled that of Peru in 2022, where 2 million 438,631 tons (MT) were registered.

Indeed, according to data from the Central Bank of the DRC, the sub-Saharan nation produced 2.36 million tons of copper last year. It is a year-on-year increase of 31% from the 1.8 million in 2021, which confirms a trend that has accelerated since 2019. It has not passed to China for nothing.

This lightning progress can be linked to the entry into production of several mines such as Deziwa in January 2020 and Kamoa-Kakula in May 2021. To this must be added the high grade of copper that the Congolese veins enjoy. As far as exports are concerned, the world’s leading producer of cobalt has not yet surpassed Peru, but it is close to the 2.5 million tons sent by our country.

The high level of conflict that hit the Congo last year was largely offset by the dizzying voracity of Kamoa-Kakula, whose maximum production will reach 800,000 MT at some point, double that of Las Bambas. However, one key piece of information on the radar should not be lost sight of: Congo’s reserves reach only 26 million MT (3% global supply), while Peru holds 77 million (10% global supply), the third after from Chile and Australia.

  More than 20% of the national copper supply has been cut so far in 2023. Photo: diffusion

More than 20% of the national copper supply has been cut so far in 2023. Photo: diffusion

copper from the andes

The former Vice Minister of Mines Rómulo Mucho assures that Peru has what to respond to the Congolese threat, although he is not very optimistic in the short term. In this case, it would be necessary to start up at least two of the following mines: Río Blanco, in Piura, and La Granja and Michiquillay, in Cajamarca.

This, without counting other projects on the horizon such as conga, Galeno, Zafranal and Tía María (these last two would make 250,000 MT). However, Much doubts looking for capital in Argentina or Canada, when Peru is still a bad host.

“We have a portfolio and projects. We can ensure that no one takes us out of second place. We even aim to displace Chile. But there is a paralysis, mining investment has fallen 23% in the first quarter,” he told La República.

This position is shared by Epifanio Baca, an economist and researcher with the Propuesta Ciudadana group, who warns that the stoppage in 2022 of mines such as Hudbay, Antapaccay and Las Bambas —which would have contributed to the Congolese rise— is added to the false idea that the communities they are responsible for the failure of mining when they have unsatisfied historical demands. So you can’t harvest anything.

“Those that are in direct competition in terms of mining investment in the region are Chile, and perhaps Ecuador and Colombia, where they are starting. There are commitments that involve canons and royalties that must be seen in the medium and long term for the good of the sector,” he stressed. .

Infographic - The Republic

Infographic – The Republic

Congo: uncomfortable escort of Peruvian copper

Preliminary data indicates that Peruvian copper production reached 221,999 tons in April, 30.5% more than in the same month of the previous year. Right now, Chile produces as much copper as Peru and the DRC combined.

Latin America has more than 50% of copper and lithium reserves to face demand by 2040. IMF recognized that the Congolese economy grew 8.5% in 2022. The country will maintain a high growth rate based on mining in 2023.

By 2030, there will be a global deficit of 6.5 million MT of copper. Se will require US$100 billion in investments that should already be materializing.


Rómulo Mucho, former Vice Minister of Mines

“More than promoting our mining externally, we must promote it internally with the communities to believe that we are a mining country. The copper investments will come by themselves later”.

Epifanio Baca, economist

“The news that Congo would displace Peru is not very relevant. We will continue to be a mining country, the challenge is to reach an agreement between the company, the State and the community for the future”.

LR infographic

Source: Larepublica

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