September 9, 2016 / 10:32 AM / in 2 years

UPDATE 1-Congo copper output to fall 1.7 pct in 2016 - chamber of mines

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KINSHASA, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Copper production in Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s top producer, will fall an estimated 1.7 percent in 2016 to 978,414 tonnes due to low prices, the chamber of mines said on Friday.

Falling output and prices of copper and other commodities have forced the government to slash its economic growth projection for this year to 4.3 percent, from 9 percent previously. The budget has also been cut by 22 percent.

The industry group said in a quarterly report that copper production had dropped by 4.5 percent in the first half of 2016. However, the central bank said last month that output had fallen nearly 14 percent over that same period.

It was not clear what accounted for the discrepancy.

Stubbornly low copper prices have led several large mines in the country’s southeast to pause operations over the last year.

Glencore Plc announced last month that it would delay resuming production at its Katanga Mining unit to early 2018. It had originally announced an 18-month suspension beginning last September.

But the chamber said that those losses have been partially offset by increased production at some of the most industrialised mines, including Sicomines, the mining side of a $6 billion ‘minerals-for-infrastructure’ deal between the government and Chinese companies, which came online last November.

Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Tim Cocks and Joe Bavier

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