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First Quantum may seek international arbitration in DRC

First Quantum’s
Kolwezi tailings
Vancouver, Canada — MININGREVIEW.COM — 23 October 2009 – First Quantum Minerals Limited “’ the Canadian-based mining company that had a US$553 million (R4.4 billion) copper project cancelled by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last month “’ says it may seek international arbitration in its dispute with the state.

The Kingamyambo Musonoi tailings project in southern Katanga was cancelled on the grounds that the company had been unwilling to adapt its contract as requested during a government review of 61 mining accords. First Quantum declared force majeure at the project two days later.

“We stand by our earlier comments that we retain the legal right to the project,” company president Clive Newall said in a mobile-phone interview with Bloomberg News. “We will continue to pursue negotiations, but if the government won’t cooperate, we retain our right to pursue international arbitration.”

First Quantum’s investment in the project, known as KMT, was the biggest to be cancelled under the government review, which was partly aimed at boosting state revenue. The company had planned to produce 70 000 metric tonnes of copper and 14 000 tonnes of cobalt a year in Kolwezi from early 2012.

First Quantum owns 65% of the Kolwezi venture, state-owned Gecamines 12.5%, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa 10%, the World Bank’s International Financial Corporation 7.5%, and the remaining 5% is held by the state.