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Head of Gecamines quits

Gecamines CEO
Paul Fortin (left)
 
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — MININGREVIEW.COM — 01 October 2009 – The Canadian head of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s state mining company Gecamines has announced his resignation.

“It’s a friendly resignation,” Paul Fortin told Reuters. “I stepped down. I was at it for four years and it will take more time to sort things out, but I think it’s time to pass on to a new chief.”

Gecamines was once one of Congo’s biggest mineral exporters, but Reuters reports that today it barely functions as a mining operation after years of neglect and maladministration.

“I was appointed for 18 months, and I stayed for four years,” Fortin said. “You chip away at the problems, but they are still there. We’ve made progress. I’m satisfied.”

During his tenure, lawyer Fortin was credited with calming workers by paying back wages. He also oversaw much of the Gecamines transition from non-functioning state miner to landholder and joint venture partner in a period when many international resources firms invested in copper and cobalt mining in the DRC.

Mining revenues “’ which depend largely on production volumes and international commodity prices “’ are a mainstay of the DRC’s public finances.

The price of copper, the country’s principal mineral export, hit a record high of almost US$9 000 per tonne in 2008, and many firms rushed to build mines there. Since then the price has fallen by around 30%, and some of those operations have been delayed, scaled back or abandoned, though there are signs of increasing interest in the sector again.

Fortin’s former deputy Calixte Mukasa will step in as acting CEO, with the government in no hurry to find a replacement, according to deputy mines minister Victor Kasongo.

“It’s not an issue that’s on the agenda,” Kasongo said. “Mukasa has taken over now. DRC is not looking for a new CEO of Gecamines.”

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