The DRC’s first ‘infrastructure for minerals’ partnership project, entailing the delivery of two new copper plants in Katanga, will start production towards the end of the year.
The project belongs to and is overseen by Sicomines Sarl, a joint venture between Congolese mining company Gecamines SA, China‘s Sinohydro and the China Railway Group.
The plants’ initial copper output is 50 000 t annually, gradually rising to an expected 400 000 t over the next two decades.
The Sicomines plants represent a critical development and capacity-building endeavor for the DRC, employing 3 000 workers, 70% of whom will be Congolese. In addition, the joint venture will disburse approximately $3 billion for the construction of roads, dams, hospitals and schools, including infrastructure projects such as the Busanga hydroelectric project.
“The progress made by the Sicomines partnership reinforces the DRC’s commitment to strengthening and professionalising its mining sector, and will help increase accountability in the industry,” says Moïse Ekanga Lushyma, executive secretary of the Bureau de Coordination et du Suivi du Programme Sino-Congolais (BCDPSC).
“We are looking forward to initialising production in just a few months, and this project will have positive effects for both the Congolese people and the DRC’s mining and business sectors. This mutually beneficial cooperation with our Chinese partners is a strong example for others interested in investment opportunities in the DRC.”
“When Sicomines builds a plant in the DRC, it sources equipment globally and is a job creator in China, the U.S., France; it creates tax revenues for the DRC, employs local labor and the shared experience facilitates the knowledge transfer we need. Sicomines is the real proof of concept for us that we have sought under the leadership of President Kabila and will continue to replicate with other investors.”
“In partnership with the World Bank and the IMF, the DRC has implemented liberalising reforms designed to increase business activities and create jobs across the country, including reforms in key industrial and commercial sectors. Our nation’s infrastructure is being rebuilt at an unprecedented rate, with new roads, schools, and hospitals under construction. Tangible investments like Sicomines from international partners will help solidify these gains and foster broader regional stabilisation and growth”.
Between 16 and 17 May, members of the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, the U.S Embassy and other foreign diplomats toured facilities and assessed the progress of the new copper plants.