UPDATE 1-Congo copper production to hold steady in 2015 - mines ministry

(Adds chamber forecast, context)

KINSHASA, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s top copper producer, will produce about 1 million tonnes of the metal for the second consecutive year in 2015, the mines ministry said on Thursday.

However, the industry’s chamber of mines, said that production would drop below 1 million tonnes due to Glencore’s suspension of operations at its Katanga Mining unit, one of Congo’s largest copper mines.

Congo produced 1.065 million tonnes of copper in 2014, according to government figures, crossing the 1 million-tonne threshold for the first time in its history.

“Compared to the level of production in 2014 ... we estimate that this level will be maintained in 2015,” Kasanda Ngoy, the mines ministry’s secretary-general, told a mining conference in Kinshasa.

Simon Tuma-Waku, vice-president responsible for mining in the Federation of Congolese Businesses, told the conference the chamber of mines had reduced its earlier projection of 1.02 million tonnes for 2015 to 974,424 tonnes to account for Katanga Mining’s suspension.

Last month Glencore announced it would suspend production for 18 months at the mine, which produced over 75,000 tonnes of copper in the first half of 2015, while it completes an $880 million modernization project to lower costs.

Congo’s copper production has more than doubled since 2011 but further gains are imperiled by electricity shortages and the slumping price of the metal due to fears of falling demand in top industrial metals consumer China. (Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Greg Mahlich)


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