The Democratic Republic of Congo is in “very advanced talks” with Malaysia Smelting Corporation, the world’s third-biggest tin producer, to build a tin smelter in eastern Congo, Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu told Bloomberg. The plant would be built at Kalima, about 1,200 kilometres east of Kinshasa, in the eastern Maniema province, Kabwelulu announced at a mines and infrastructure conference in the capital today. “A protocol agreement was already signed by the Malaysian party,” he said. “The only thing remaining is the signature of the portfolio minister.” MSC signed a deal in May with DR Congo, Africa’s largest tin producer, to explore mineral concessions in Maniema formerly held by the state-run Sakima mining company.
Kabwelulu told Reuters he expected the joint venture accord with MSC would initially have the aim of rehabilitating existing structures for an output of 500 tonnes in the start-up year. He added that the plan was for 5,000-7,000 tonnes of the tin ore cassiterite to be collected from small scale miners in Maniema, where traceability projects are more advanced than in North and South Kivu, the two other eastern mining provinces. Currently the iTSCi traceability scheme is only operating in the Katanga province of DR Congo. The system is tracking 80-90% of cassiterite and coltan exports from Katanga, said Karen Hayes, senior technical adviser for Pact, the Washington-based organization implementing the system.