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Speaking at the official opening of DRC Mining Week 2022 – H.E. Antoninette Nsamba Kalambayi, minister for the ministry of mines in the DRC, highlighted the resilience the country’s mining industry has shown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The mining industry, through the Chamber of Mines and FEC (Federation des Enterprises) have also shown support to the ministry and for that I thank everyone,” the minister said.

Her Excellency noted that even though the world, and the DRC, has been impacted by the pandemic, she reminded the audience of the war that has broken out in the Ukraine. “The mining sector has been affected by the war and it needs to show greater resilience than ever before. The fuel prices have escalated significantly, and this affects the downstream transportation and logistics sector which is so important to the mining industry here.

“Our economy relies on the sustainability of our industry and so we must come together to find solutions to these problems. The ministry is open to engagement from all stakeholders to discuss how best we can mitigate the impacts of the war,” she highlighted.

Turning to more positive news, of which there was plenty shared amongst the remainder of the panel during the opening, the minister highlighted the launch of a centre for processing of electric batteries in the DRC together with a cooperation agreement signed with Zambia for electric battery processing.

“Together we will create a value chain here between the DRC and Zambia – and this is an opportunity to invite investors to seize all the opportunities offered to them,” she emphasizes.

This is a significant achievement for the country, which stands to benefit greatly from greater local downstream opportunities that can feed through from its copper, cobalt and lithium resources.

Connecting in-person in the DRC an achievement and celebration

David Ashdown, CEO of Vuka Group, organisers of DRC Mining Week, opened the session and shared the journey taken since its inception.

“We started our adventure in the DRC in 2004 with a very small gathering of stakeholders and sponsors with a goal of positioning the DRC on the international map. We extended our presence in the DRC with the first Katanga Mining Week in 2010. And looking at the growth of sector and the interest in the region, we decided to combine both platform into DRC Mining Week in 2016.

“What started with a dream of making the DRC, became an incredible reality.  Today we welcome 200 sponsors and exhibitors, 4 000 participants and close to 800 delegates in the conference room exchanging and building commercial partnerships to contribute to the local economy.

He also highlighted that the event’s downstream impact on spend directly associated with the event was US$4million.

Louis Watum, President of the Chamber of Mines for the DRC also addressed the audience during the opening and together with Marie-Gabrielle (Deputy CEO of Standard Bank DRK) and Excellence Jacques Kyabula Katwe (Governor of the Haut Katagana Province) reinforced the message of resilience across the sector over the past year.

Watum revealed the country’s growth in copper production – increasing from less than 10 000 tpa before the Mining Code was promulgated to more than 1.8 Mtpa currently.

Having been associated with the event for around 15 years, Standard Bank reiterated the growth seen in the DRC’s mining sector, noting that it will continue to support the country in its future growth objectives.

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