Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 12/27/2012 -- The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)'s vast mineral resources will continue to attract greater international interest, given the country's huge untapped and high-grade reserves and an improving, though still very poor business environment. In terms of growth potential, the industry is one of the most attractive in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), as we forecast the sector to almost double from 2011 levels to US$2.6bn in 2017, mostly driven by copper and gold production. However, while we expect substantial growth in mining output, risks to investment remain numerous with security concerns and lack of adequate infrastructure most pressing.
Ore To Play For
After half a century of decline and unrealised potential, the DRC's mining sector is on the verge of rapid growth, as several huge gold deposits are developed in the country. Numerous large-scale projects are coming online over the next five years, with Randgold Resources' Kibali gold mine expected in 2013 perhaps the most notable. The mine has reserves of 13mn ounces (moz) and is one of the largest gold projects due to come online in the next few years. As well as gold, there are several significant copper projects due to come online. In addition to their size, the copper deposits in the DRC are attractive due to their high copper grade. The Kipoi and Kamoto mines are estimated to contain grades above 3.0%, which is significantly higher than the world average of 0.6%. This will be an increasingly important issue as some of the world's largest mines, including Antamina in Peru, Escondida in Chile and Grasberg in Indonesia, have experienced falling ore grades and thus higher extraction costs.
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While the potential is clear, political impediments are likely to remain, as conflict continues in the east of the country, where much of the mining occurs. The potential for political ructions will continue to pose downside risks to mining sector growth.
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