Zambia and Congo are seeking funds to resurvey and demarcate their common border in a bid to improve security and end border disputes in the mineral-rich region, the Zambia-Congo joint permanent commission said Monday.
Resurveying the border will also help stamp out smuggling, illegal migration, poaching, money laundering and motor vehicle thefts, the commission said in a statement. Zambia and Congo share Africa’s Copperbelt, which is believed to contain around 10% of the world’s copper reserves and a third of global cobalt reserves.
A committee of experts, which has been studying the situation at the border since last year, recommended that the two governments source funding from cooperating development partners to implement the joint project immediately, the commission added.
Around 5,000 metric tons of mineral ores are smuggled across the Zambian border from Congo every day for treatment and export, according to trade officials. Years of insecurity and civil wars in Congo left the country’s mineral treatment infrastructure in shambles, leading to increased cases of mineral smuggling across the Zambian border.
Authorities in Congo’s Katanga province banned export of unprocessed mineral ores across the Zambian border in 2007 to curb mineral smuggling, a move that threatened to cause a diplomatic spat between the two countries.
Some copper mining companies have operations in both Zambia and Congo, including Toronto-listed First Quantum Minerals Ltd. and South Africa-based Metorex Ltd. Both of these companies ship minerals mined in Congo across the border for treatment at plants in Zambia.
Copper output in Zambia and Congo is expected to hit 1.5 million tons by 2012 due to a surge in mining investments, propelled by increasing global copper demand, according to analysts.