KINSHASA — The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today applauded the opening of the new Sicomines Copper and Cobalt Mine in the southeastern Katanga region. It is estimated that the mine contains deposits of approximately 10 million tonnes of copper and 622 thousand of cobalt deposits, positioning it to be one of the ten largest mines in the world.

“This opening marks a significant milestone in the Sicomines project, which aims to harness the DRC’s natural resources, create new jobs and create $3 billion in new infrastructure projects, including roads, railways, hospitals, electricity and water supply,” said Moise Ekanga, executive secretary of the Office for the Coordination and Monitoring of the Sino-Congolese Program (BCPSC). “This project is good news for the Congolese economy and illustrates that the DRC is open for business,” Mr. Ekanga said.

Sicomines S.A. is a joint venture between Congolese mining company Gecamines SA, China‘s Sinohydro and the China Railway Group Limited, agreed upon in 2008 as part of a minerals-for-infrastructure deal, which will result in $3 billion for infrastructure plus an additional $3 billion to develop Sicomines, with all the loans to be repaid with mining profits. The Export-Import Bank of China has already disbursed $826 million in infrastructure projects.

The DRC is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, used to make rechargeable batteries, and a leading producer of copper. Last year, the DRC produced a record one-million-plus tonnes of copper. At full capacity, the Sicomines mine is expected to produce 250,000 tonnes of copper per year.

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