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DRC Ramps Up Zambia Crossing

FILE: Soldiers at the customs post in Kasumbalesa near Zambia, Haut-Katanga, DRC, 8.25.2020

Democratic Republic of Congo plans to expand its main border post with Zambia, a source close to its government said, to ease truck queues of up to 60 km that copper miners have faced this year due to increased production and inadequate infrastructure.

The backlog of trucks at Kasumbalesa, a border town and the main exit point for metals exports from Congo, is an example of supply chain disruption that will make it harder to meet future demand for copper, essential for electric vehicles.

"The turnaround time of trucks has increased substantially... it takes an extra 45 to 60 days for the products to reach consumption centers in Asia, Europe or North America," said a source at a company with operations in the central African country.

This compares to around 15 days in 2019.

"A construction project for a second Lubumumbashi - Kasumbalesa road is in the process of being signed," the source told Reuters, adding that it would take at least 18 months to complete from the date the project is approved.

The source did not give an expected timeline for the approval.

Africa's biggest copper producer, Congo accounted for 1.8 million tons of mined production of the metal last year, about 8.5% of the global total, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The long queues of trucks are due in part to increased traffic, according to Michel Kibonge Nyekuma, chief of staff for the Minister of Mines.