A just-published report by RBC Capital Markets (RBCCM), penned by analyst Mark Smith, states that the DRC "is one of the most well endowed countries in the world with respect to mineral potential. After our recent RBC-sponsored field trip, we have taken a detailed look at the country's mineral potential, and set that against the infrastructure challenges it faces if it is to unlock its vast resource wealth".
Smith's report reviews 11 companies with key operations in the DRC, which houses an estimated 80% of the world's coltan (a colloquial name for columbite-tantalite, a metallic ore comprising niobium and tantalum), 34% of its cobalt and 10% of its copper reserves. The country's gold potential is virtually untouched, with the Congo craton being Africa's largest under-explored region in terms of Archaean geology.
There are huge challenges, but equally, huge opportunities, in the DRC. The country has limited energy resources, but potential to generate enough power to run just about the entire African continent. After years of neglect, the Inga Dam produces only about 40% of the DRC's hydroelectric capacity of 1 736MW, and less than 2% of the Congo River's power generating potential of up to 39 000MW.
The Congo River represents one of the world's best hydroelectric sites, and the cheapest source of hydropower. Like its hydro electric potential, the DRC's road infrastructure is very limited. In a country the size of Western Europe, there is less than 2 250km of paved roads. Thanks to development funding, there are four road projects currently underway in the DRC, totaling 7 230km of rehabilitation.
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