Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has instructed all mining companies to halt any project expansion requiring more power, due to power shortages in the Katanga province, according to government documents.

DRC is rich in natural resources and has major ores, such as cobalt, diamonds, gold and copper.

DRC Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon told Reuters that the national power company, SNEL, should not grant any new energy contracts for mining companies and not allow any amendments to existing contracts.

"I equally consider it necessary that mining clients postpone immediately and until further notice any expansion project requiring additional energy," Mapon said.

"Katanga’s total demand is about 900MW of power from the mining companies, and that only 461.7MW is available." 

Global mining companies, such as Glencore and Freeport McMoRan, are said to have the majority of operations in the south-eastern Katanga province of Congo.

Glencore-owned firm Katanga Mining, which produced 136,192t in 2013, is seeking to expand its copper output to 300,000t as part of its plan to become the largest metal producer in Africa.

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Miners in Katanga have previously expressed dissatisfaction over insufficient and unreliable energy supplies that are limiting production.

The government plans to share power allocation to each mining firm according to the age of the contract, the level of production and the minimum energy levels required to maintain a profitable business.

Mapon noted that Katanga’s total demand is about 900MW of power from the mining companies, and that only 461.7MW is available.

According to International Monetary Fund, DRC has produced 942,000t of copper this year, which represents an increase of 52% from last year.

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