Congo earthquakes and evacuation disrupt tin exports

PUBLISHED: Thu, 27 May 2021 16:00:34 GMT
Helen Reid and Pratima Desai
Key Points
  • Tin producers unable to export as Goma government offices shut
  • Congo accounts for 8% of world’s tin-in-concentrate
  • As much as 175 tonnes of tin could be delayed – ITA
  • ITA sees build-up in stocks at mining operations
TOPSHOT – This general view of the port of Goma shows residents hurrying towards ferries after an evacuation order has been given on May 27, 2021. – The authorities in Goma, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on Thursday morning ordered the evacuation of part of the city because of the risk of eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano, immediately causing the exodus of tens of thousands of people. (Photo by Guerchom NDEBO / AFP) (Photo by GUERCHOM NDEBO/AFP via Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG/LONDON, May 27 (Reuters) – Earthquakes following a volcanic eruption in Goma, a city near Congo’s border with Rwanda, are disrupting exports of tin concentrate from mineral-rich North Kivu province, the International Tin Association (ITA) said on Thursday.

The industry association confirmed what two sources with direct knowledge told Reuters on Wednesday.

The disruption to Congolese tin exports – which account for 8% of the world’s tin-in-concentrate, according to the ITA – is likely to exacerbate shortages of the soldering metal, prices of which last week touched 10-year highs at $30,650 a tonne.

Tin ore producers have been unable to obtain the permits they need to export the material because government offices in Goma, North Kivu’s capital city, are shut, the sources said.

“It is currently unclear when Goma will be declared safe again, and government offices will reopen,” the ITA said.

Congolese authorities ordered the partial evacuation of Goma on Thursday, saying Mount Nyiragongo volcano could erupt a second time with little or no warning after more than 200 small and medium earthquakes shook the city following Saturday’s eruption.

Some 200 to 250 tonnes of tin concentrate move through Goma every month, the ITA said, citing a source close to producers in the region.

Tin concentrates typically contain around 50%-70% metal, so around 100 to 175 tonnes of tin-in-concentrate could be disrupted, the ITA said.

The ITA said it expects producers in North Kivu to continue operating despite delays to export permits, and sees a short-term build-up in concentrate stocks at mining operations, followed by greater exports once licences can be renewed.

Tin was trading up 0.2% at $29,585 a tonne on Thursday.

The vast majority of North Kivu’s tin exports come from Alphamin Resources’ Bisie mine near Walikale, 230 kms (142 miles) west of Goma.

Alphamin, which produced 10,319 tonnes of tin-in-concentrate in 2020, said on Wednesday that government services relating to export documentation have been disrupted but are expected to return to normal next week “assuming no further volcanic eruptions”.

Alphamin exports its tin via Beni over the border to Uganda, and ultimately to Kenya’s port of Mombasa, from where it is shipped.

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