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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook area reports: international 1980
Year 1980, Volume 3 (1980)

Ellis, Miller W.
Zaire,   pp. 1129-1136 PDF (927.1 KB)

Page 1129

  1129The Mineral Industry of Zaire 
By Miller W. Ellis1 
 In 1980, Zaire's mineral industry provided 85% of the country's foreign
exchange and maintained its position as the world's leading producer of industrial
diamonds and cobalt, and the world's sixth largest producer of copper. Despite
high transport costs, shortages of skilled labor and fuel, and a diminishing
price for copper, production of most of Zaire's mineral commodities increased
as the industry resumed normal operations after the armed invasion of the
Shaba Region in 1978, and after the higher metal prices of 1979. 
 The Government of Zaire (GOZ) declared a 30% devaluation of the national
currency, the Zaire (Z), on February 22, 1980, following the 25% devaluation
of August 1979. The measure was designed to comply with conditions set down
by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to which the central government
had appealed for economic assistance. The result was a reduction of the worth
of the Z to about 34 cents, U.S. currency, or Z2.94= US$1.00, by yearend.
A rescheduling agreement with Zaire's international bank creditors was signed
in April 1980, and the International Bank for Research and Development (IBRD)
consultstive group met in late May. Zaire's debtservicing payments for 1980
were estimated at $470 million, compared with only $120 million in 1979.
By the end of September, the GOZ had met the IMF standby conditions and had
maintained the rigorous budget deficit and credit ceilings as agreed. It
had also adhered to the 1980 repayment terms and the rescheduled public and
private debt reimbursement of $300 million (three times the total of debt
repayment for 1979). There was also a signal improvement in the GOZ attitude
towards general development programs, particularly those with respect to
health and agriculture. 
 In mid-January 1980, President Mobutu Sese Seko requested resignations from
13 of his 22 cabinet ministers and reassigned some of the others. Prime Minister
Nguza Karl-I-Bond retained his post, but a former opposition leader, Kamitatu
Massambwa, became Minister of Environment and Tourism. General Babia Nzongbi
Malobia, formerly chief of the armed forces, became Minister of Social Affairs.
Magazba Mbuka was appointed Commissioner for Mines, but was replaced by Lwamba
Katansi on August 27, 1980. 
 More than one-half (53%) of the 1979 export traffic was carried on the river
barge and rail Voie National and shipped from Matadi. Of the 39% of traffic
shipped through South African ports, 8% took the barge route across Lake
Tanganyika, and the Tanzanian railway to Dar es Salaam. During early 1980,
virtually all cobalt was shipped by air, 51% of the copper was railed to
South African ports, 46% was shipped to Matadi by the Voie National, and
3% was shipped through Tanzania to Dar es Salaam. Less than 10% of the tin
shipments also went through Tanzania to Dar es Salaam, and more than 90%
went by the Voie National to Matadi. 
 Studies of the Banana-Boma-Matadi section of the Zaire River Bay continued
as did examination of proposals for improvement of river barge and rail transport
within the country. Electrification of the MatadiKinshasa railroad was scheduled
for 1981. Operation of the 615-millimeter-gauge Mayumbe railroad from Boma,
140 kilometers north to Tshela near the bauxite deposits, was halted. Alternative
routes for a rail link between Matadi or Kinshasa and the copperbelt terminal
at Ilebo were restudied, and a schedule for the repair of internal road transport
routes was initiated. 

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