HomeBase MetalsDRC must allow expansion of Tenke Fungurume mine

DRC must allow expansion of Tenke Fungurume mine

Freeport McMoRan’s
Tenke Fungurume
project in the DRC
Kinshasa, DRC — MININGREVIEW.COM — 18 February 2010 – The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) should respect its commitments concerning Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Incorporated’s US$1.8 billion (R13.5 billion) Tenke copper and cobalt project.

Making this recommendation, a parliamentary report e-mailed to Bloomberg News from here revealed that Freeport’s DRC unit, Tenke Fungurume Mining Sarl, has all the evidence that its contract is legal. The report “’ by the National Assembly’s Economic and Finance Commission “’ recommends that the government allow Tenke to expand its mine in order to increase its payments of royalties and taxes.

The Tenke project is the last question mark after a two- and-a-half year government review of all DRC mining contracts. The main point of contention between the two sides was over state-owned Gecamines’ stake, which was reduced from 45 to 17.5% in 2005.

“Though the renegotiation was legal, the contract was badly negotiated by the government,” the commission said. Tenke is now 57.7% controlled by Freeport, and Canada’s Lundin Mining Corp. has a 24.75% share.

The Tenke mine “’ which opened in March 2009″’ is currently producing 250 million pounds of copper and 18 million pounds of cobalt a year. Its second phase of investment will allow it to produce 400 000 metric tons of the metals, according to the report. Cash-strapped DRC could receive as much as US$50 million (R375 million) in payments from the project this year, the commission added.

Bloomberg News reports that the commission’s report was spearheaded by Modeste Bahati Lukwebo, a deputy in the National Assembly, and was sent to the government in late January.