After a first warning bell in the middle of this year, the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC) would have already emerged as the second largest copper producer internationally, relegating Peru to third place and occupying a decisive position in key supply for the energy transition at the end of 2023.
The president of the Codelco board of directors, Máximo Pacheco, confirmed before the Chamber of Deputies of Chile that Congolese production has progressed by leaps and bounds, largely due to the Kamoa-Kakula underground mine.
“The first is Chile; the second, Congo, which has already surpassed Peru. (…) There is greater production from mines coming from Africa,” Pacheco said in a report released by the Reuters agency this week.
Congo already displaced China as the third global producer, and there are those who do not rule out that, after surpassing Peru, it could do the same with Chile, a country where operators warn that the royalty affected their regional competitiveness.
Production of the red metal in the DRC is expected to advance 11% this year and achieve a yield of 2.6 million MT. Data provided by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) attributes to Peru and Chile a growth in mineral production of only 4% and 2%, respectively.
The November report from the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) revealed that production of the red metal in the DRC grew approximately 7% in the first nine months of the year, mainly due to the expansion of Kamoa, better grades of copper and expanded capacity over other mines.
In contrast, the 16% development achieved in Peru in this same period was hindered by “the actions of local communities, which continued to impact production.” For the Chilean part, ICSG declares a drop of 1.9% due to operational problems, lower qualities and reduction in water supply due to droughts.
Las Bambas in suspense
These are not the only problems facing Peruvian mining these days. Yesterday, Wednesday, the indefinite strike called by the Las Bambas mining workers was suspended because the Ministry of Labor and Employment Promotion (MTPE) made the strike illegal.
Erick Ramos, spokesperson for the Single Workers Union of Las Bambas, told La República that, although the mine continued working during the 48 hours that the strike lasted, they do not rule out continuing with their measure of force in demand of the payment of profits, which they assure They were only recognized once in eight years.
Career. Already in 2022, Congo will almost catch up with Peru and its 2.4 million MT of copper per year, according to Wood Mackenzie. Chile, meanwhile, achieved 5.3 MT of the red metal.
Open pit. The current mining investment portfolio in Peru, amounting to US$53.13 billion, spread across 46 projects (25 of them copper), would be enough to even displace Chile, Minem assured.
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