The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) mining sector presents a high-risk high-return opportunity. The country has a unique position with substantial untapped gold, cobalt and high-grade copper reserves, but equally significant are the political and security risks accentuated by a lack of robust infrastructure.
The DRC is the largest producer of cobalt globally, accounting for about 55% of the global output in 2012 according to the US Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Commodity Summaries 2013 report. It was the second largest producer of industrial diamonds in 2012, contributing about 21% of global production behind only Botswana, which accounted for about 31% of global industrial diamond output. Furthermore, the country boasts some of the highest quality copper reserves globally, with some of the mines estimated to contain grades above 3%, significantly higher than the global average of 0.6% - 0.8%. International mining companies attracted by high grade and low cost mines, may be increasingly attracted to the DRC’s copper wealth situated on the Copperbelt in the Southern part of the country. In turn, with operating costs that are lower than traditional gold producing countries like South Africa, DRC’s gold mining sector is also witnessing renewed interest from mining companies. The Kibali gold project being developed by Randgold Resources is estimated to be the largest undeveloped gold mine in Africa with about 13 – 14 million ounces of gold reserves.