With an established network of mining stakeholders, this year, like always, DRC Mining Week gave over 5,000 stakeholders the opportunity to engage with key mining decision-makers and industry players and enable investors to reach their prospective partners and clients while keeping them connected.
According to the US Geological Survey, DRC holds more than half of the world’s cobalt reserves amongst other natural resources. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the second-largest country in Africa; it is known to be the world’s largest producer of cobalt, which is used in the production of batteries for cell phones and other consumer electronics. These contribute to 98 % to exports, 18 % to GDP, 18 % to government revenue and 11% to employment. (2015 DRC EITI Report)
Since January 2021, the country has exported an average of 22,000 – 34,000 tonnes of copper in cathode form, between 14,000 and 28,000 tonnes of copper in the form of concentrates and between 4,500 and 7,400 tonnes of cobalt in form of hydroxides per week.
The gradual resumption of mining activity in the DRC with the production launch from the Kamoa-Kakula mine should boost the economic growth to rebound to 4.5% in 2022.
The DRC government also launched reforms with the aim to strengthen governance in the management of natural resources and improve the business climate.
This year, DRC Mining Week welcomed 200 sponsors and exhibitors, over 5,200 visitors during the 3 days, and over 800 delegates and VIP at the conference. H.E. the Ministry of Mines from the DRC, Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi inaugurated the exhibition and conference with a ‘crème de la crème’ delegation joined by 800 conference participants.
As the only earth sciences consulting firm at the recent DRC Mining Week in Lubumbashi, SRK Consulting cited the large turnout and positive mood as a good indication of the country’s mining momentum.
According to Dominique Sambwa, chairperson of SRK Consulting DRC, energy supply and green transition were key discussion points at the DRC Mining Week’s conference, as Hydro-electric schemes underway promise to add 500 MW to the national grid. With this increased energy generation in the country, there will certainly be a boost will be a boost in production, and an open door for new projects to become viable. Renewable energy will also support mines’ efforts to decarbonise. Currently, there are discussions on the feasibility of introducing battery-powered vehicles in local mines, which provide a potentially cleaner alternative to diesel-powered vehicles – depending on the source of the electricity. This will undoubtedly push DRC in the carbon-neutral direction.
Susa Maleba, the Country Manager of SRK Consulting DRC, emphasised that increased demand for the country’s key minerals – copper and cobalt – is encouraging miners to raise production levels, a trend that could only be sustained by adding generation capacity to the grid.
At the DRC Mining Week, the DRC government also reiterated its policy on local procurement. This is often not easy, as the DRC is not yet well-served by banking and financial institutions which can support local businesses to start-up and grow.
According to Wouter Jordaan, director of the SRK Consulting DRC practice, there is also continued concern with formalising the artisanal mining sector in the country. However, mining companies are forging innovative strategies to do this. There was also considerable discussion around responsible business and mining practices, which is fast becoming a focal point of supply chains and investors.
Having established its DRC office in Lubumbashi 12 years ago, SRK Consulting’s local professionals have been providing a range of services to mining companies, including exploration, due diligence, reviews and competent persons’ reports, as well as hydrogeology and geotechnical work, and environmental and social studies. Speaking at a special event for clients during DRC Mining Week, Sambwa said the company was also working towards greater involvement in the green energy transition.