Kinshasa, DRC — MININGREVIEW.COM — 08 August 2008 – The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – the world’s largest source of cobalt – has announced that state-owned mining companies will lead the re-negotiation of all mining contracts with foreign investors. The re-negotiation process is scheduled to begin later this month.
Reporting from here, Bloomberg News confirms that the DRC government wants to increase state revenues by amending a total of 62 deals with companies, including Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Incorporated – the biggest publicly traded copper producer in the world – and AngloGold Ashanti Limited – Africa’s largest gold miner. The DRC holds a third of the world’s cobalt reserves and 10% of its copper reserves.
“We will give the terms of reference to the state enterprises, and then it’s up to them to discuss the matter further with their private partners,” said Mines Ministry chief of staff Alexis Mikandji in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News from the DRC capital. “The terms of reference explain what the ministry wants from the deals,” he added.
Katanga Mining Limited of Canada – which is re-starting the DRC’s biggest underground copper mine – has revealed that it amended a joint venture with state-owned Gecamines, following a government review earlier this year.
Gecamines managing director Paul Fortin said in a telephone interview from South Carolina that his company – which holds copper and cobalt assets in the south of the country – will complete negotiations with other companies over the next month.
Various campaign groups, including London-based Global Witness, have criticised the lack of published information on the government’s review. “There’s no clear timeframe for the process, which began in June last year,” the 15 groups said. Bloomberg attempted to reach mines minister Martin Kabwelulu and his deputy Victor Kasongo for their comment, but failed to make contact with them.