|Mining in Africa Today - Strategies and Prospects (UNU, 1987, 91 pages)|
|9. Mining or industrialization specialization?|
By the end of the 1970s, Africa's output of refined copper amounted to one million tons, or 10% of world output. A by no means negligible proportion but it should be compared to Africa's higher shares in the world output of blister (15%) and of ore concentrates (17%). There was, and still is, an important gap between the smelting and the refining capacity.
Refined copper is mainly for export, and local consumption is only 1% of world consumption, although it increased notably in the 1970s. It is, moreover, highly concentrated in such countries as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Algeria and Egypt, which are not big copper producers.
African exports of copper ore and concentrates represent only a small percentage of the world total (5%), which means that, unlike in the producing countries of Asia and Oceania, the ore output in Africa is, for the most part, locally processed. But African exports of blister represent between 45% and 55% of the world total, which implies that a good part of blister production is not processed locally. The smelting stage of copper processing is thus the most developed in relative terms in African countries, especially in South Africa, Namibia and Zaire.
Lastly, production of finished copper products (wire, tubes, sheets) is very limited and the existing facilities are in general underutilized.