The Democratic Republic of Congo is planning a ban on exports of tin, tungsten and tantalum raw materials from the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu and Maniema from January 2009, according to news agency reports. Similar restrictions have already been applied to exports of copper from Katanga province.

“W will evaluate the situation in January, but the plan is to stop ore from being exported,” Juma Balikwisha, mines minister in the North Kivu province, told Bloomberg. “It is only by adding value at home that the country will see the real benefits of its minerals.”

It is not clear whether the proposed new rules would require ore processing up to a minimum concentrate grade, or would go further and require smelting into refined metal. Currently most tin concentrate leaving the DRC grades around 65% tin. Trade sources have pointed out that lack of infrastructure and energy supplies in the provinces make it difficult to establish improved ore processing or smelting facilities, while the instability of the area strongly discourages such investments.