Congo mining output rises, central bank warns of inflation risk – by Aaron Ross (Reuters U.S. – November 6, 2017)

DAKAR (Reuters) – Copper production in Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s top producer of the metal, rose by 9.3 percent in the first nine months of this year, but soaring inflation remains a risk to the economy, the central bank warned on Monday.

Rising mining production should help ease some of the economic problems in Congo where inflation is expected to hit 48 percent this year and the Congolese franc has fallen by 22 percent against the dollar, largely due to lingering effects from two years of low commodity prices.

Copper production in the first nine months of the year stood at 831,000 tonnes, the central bank said in a monthly report, while cobalt production increased by 18 percent to 59,000 tonnes and gold production rose 5.7 percent to 23,000 kg.

But the bank warned that any letup by authorities on tight monetary policy and austerity measures that have reduced fiscal deficits in recent months could cause inflation and depreciation of the franc currency to spiral again.

It said the annual inflation rate could rise to as high as 76 percent by year-end if those policies are relaxed. The franc could fall further, by as much as 39 percent, if the policies are not maintained, the bank said.

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