Downtown Kinshasa,
capital of the DRC
 
Kinshasa, DRC — MININGREVIEW.COM — 16 July 2008 – Renegotiation of mining contracts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) should not continue before proper policies and procedures have been put in place, according to a prominent American human rights group.

A ministerial panel is set to start renegotiating 62 mining contracts this month as part of a DRC government initiative to boost revenue from the mining industry.
 
In a statement to Bloomberg News, John Stremlau – vice president for peace programmes at the Atlanta-based Carter Center – said publicly disclosed measures needed to be implemented to ensure the integrity of the process.

“The Carter Center is ‘deeply concerned’ that mining contracts will be renegotiated without policy or procedures to guide this process, or an indication of whether requisite expertise will be secured,” Stremlau added.

In March, 15 non-governmental organisations, including Global Witness, urged the DRC government to improve the transparency of the review process to maintain its credibility.

The Carter Center said its concerns included a lack of indication from a ministerial task force on how renegotiations would be completed. There was also a lack of transparency in new deals announced with the Chinese government, and with individual companies whose contracts are under review.

DRC deputy mines minister Victor Kasongo rejected the Carter Center’s criticism of the process.

“This government was elected by the people and they want us to re-negotiate the contracts – not the civil society,” Kasongo claimed in a telephone interview from Kinshasa. “We have terms of reference – everything will be communicated to the companies first.”

Kasongo said re-negotiation of contracts would begin at the end of July.