Congo's mineral-rich Katanga province threatened on Friday to extend restrictions on mineral exports to include a ban on copper concentrate if minerals companies did not move to increase local processing.
Katanga Governor Moise Katumbi halted exports of cobalt concentrate on May 15, saying mining companies were flouting a year-old ban on exporting raw ore.
Katumbi said only companies that had already begun to build smelters would be allowed to restart exports, after being inspected by a team of engineers.
Mines Minister Bartelemy Mumba Gama said on Friday that the team would also be checking on the progress of construction of processing plants by copper mining companies.
If we see that they haven't yet begun to construct these smelters, we will also stop copper (concentrate), he told Reuters by telephone from the provincial capital, Lubumbashi.
He did not say when the copper concentrate ban might take effect.
Congo closed facilities belonging to Congo Dongfang International Mining, a subsidiary of China's Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co., on Wednesday, accusing it of breaking the ban on exporting raw ore. (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com) (Reporting by Joe Bavier; editing by Alistair Thomson)
(c) Reuters 2008. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.