(Updates with Ivanplats statement)
TORONTO, April 17 (Reuters) - Ivanplats Ltd shares fell almost 18 percent on Wednesday after Democratic Republic of Congo banned exports of copper and cobalt concentrates, although there was no immediate indication the Africa-focused miner's projects would be affected by the ban.
The export ban is intended to encourage more value-added production in Congo, according to an order from the country's mining ministry obtained by Reuters. Dated April 5, it includes a 90-day grace period.
Ivanplats' Kamoa copper project is in Congo. A preliminary economic assessment released last September included plans for a concentrator and smelter.
The company, founded by mining entrepreneur Robert Friedland, said Thursday that it signed a memorandum of understanding with Congo's state-owned power company to upgrade a nearby power plant, securing more electricity for Kamoa.
Ivanplats said on March 28 it was planning a drilling program at its nearby Kipushi project, which includes a historic zinc-copper mine.
In a statement issued late on Wednesday, Ivanplats said "the company's planned development of its Kamoa copper discovery would not be negatively impacted" by a decree to ban exports of cobalt and copper concentrates.
The company also said it would seek clarification of the comments attributed to Congo's Mines Minister that mining companies "will be required to add value to concentrates through further processing within three months."
The company's shares closed down 18 percent at C$2.95 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Leslie Adler and Andre Grenon)