LONDON, Sep. 14 -- Malaysia Smelting Corp., the biggest buyer of tin ore from the Democratic Republic of Congo, will support a government ban on exports of the mineral from parts of the country, said ITRI Ltd., a tin industry group.
Congolese President Joseph Kabila banned all mining operations in three eastern provinces on Sept. 11 to combat what he said were “mafia groups” that control the trade.
"Further clarification is expected in the next few days regarding the exact extent of the suspension, the possible export of current stocks, as well as the aims and probable timescales of the action,” ITRI said today in an e-mailed statement from St. Albans, England. MSC spokesman Chua Cheong Yong did not answer calls seeking comment to his mobile phone and office in Penang, Malaysia after normal business hours.
The government will provide an explanation of how the suspension will be applied by Sept. 16, Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu said by text message today. He expects miners will be allowed to sell their existing stockpiles.
Congo is under pressure from rights groups and a new U.S. law against so-called conflict minerals to prevent its vast natural resources from being used to back armed movements. Some members of the Congolese army and insurgents support themselves by controlling or taxing the mineral trade in the provinces of North and South Kivu and Maniema.
The three provinces are rich in cassiterite, gold, wolframite and coltan, an ore containing tantalite that is used in the manufacture of mobile phones.
Congo will continue exporting cassiterite from southeastern Katanga province, which is not included in the suspension, ITRI said.