Congo's copper output falls on low prices, gold rises
* Copper output fell 3.3 pct to 995,805 T in 2015
* Sharpest fall in Q4, Katanga suspension partly to blame
* Gold production rose 30 pct to 25,516 kg in 2015
By Aaron Ross
KINSHASA, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Copper production in Democratic Republic of Congo dropped for the first time in six years in 2015 and this year could be another tough one as low commodity prices continue to bite, the Central African country's chamber of mines said on Wednesday.
Output dropped 3.3 percent in Africa's top copper producer to 995,805 tonnes from 1.03 million tonnes in 2014, the first time production fell since the global economic downturn in 2009.
The sharpest fall was in the fourth quarter when production slumped 12 percent year-on-year, in part due to the suspension of some production at miner and trader Glencore's Katanga Mining unit, the industry group said in its annual report.
The mine, one of the largest in Congo, producing 113,674 tonnes of copper in the first nine months of 2015, is not expected to reopen until mid-2017.
Congo's economy is highly dependent on the mining sector, which accounts for about 20 percent of GDP. Copper and cobalt alone accounted for 79 percent of the country's exports in the first half of 2015, according to the Central Bank. Continued...