KINSHASACopper output in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa‘s top copper producer, fell by 5% on an annual basis in 2016 due to low prices and production cutbacks, the central bank said on Friday.

Congo‘s economy, which depends on its mining and oil sectors for roughly 95% of export revenues, mined 986 582 t of the metal during the year, it said in a report..

A shortage of dollars and large government deficits pushed down the Congolese franc by nearly 40% last year, the bank said. The inflation rate would continue to increase, from an estimated 25.04% in 2016 to 31.19 in 2017, it added.

The economy stands to benefit this year from a rebound in copper prices, which are up about 25% over the past year. The rise came too late to stem the fall in 2016 output, in part because many production decisions were set before it occurred.

The World Bank said this week it expects Congo‘s economy to average 5% growth in 2017/18, compared with an estimated 2.7% in 2016.

However, it warned that public finances are severely depleted and recommended that the government seek assistance from international development partners.

The central bank‘s report said copper production by the heavily indebted state mining company Gecamines fell 15% in 2016 to 14 260 t despite plans to boost output last year by over 40%.

Source: Mining Weekly

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