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KINSHASA Feb 3 Copper output in Democratic
Republic of Congo, Africa's top copper producer, fell by 5
percent on an annual basis in 2016 due to low prices and
production cutbacks, the central bank said on Friday.
Congo's economy, which depends on its mining and oil sectors
for roughly 95 percent of export revenues, mined 986,582 tonnes
of the metal during the year, it said in a report.
A shortage of dollars and large government deficits pushed
down the Congolese franc by nearly 40 percent last year, the
bank said. The inflation rate would continue to increase, from
an estimated 25.04 percent in 2016 to 31.19 in 2017, it added.
The economy stands to benefit this year from a rebound in
copper prices, which are up about 25 percent over the past year.
The rise came too late to stem the fall in 2016 output, in part
because many production decisions were set before it occurred.
The World Bank said this week it expects Congo's economy to
average 5 percent growth in 2017-18, compared with an estimated
2.7 percent in 2016.
However, it warned that public finances are severely
depleted and recommended that the government seek assistance
from international development partners.
The central bank's report said copper production by the
heavily indebted state mining company Gecamines fell 15 percent
in 2016 to 14,260 tonnes despite plans to boost output last year
by over 40 percent.
(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Tom