Kinshasa, DRC — MININGREVIEW.COM — 17 May 2010 – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila’s insistence that United Nations peacekeepers end their decade- long mission may hamper the operations of companies, including AngloGold Ashanti Limited and Mwana Africa Plc, and could deter further investment in the country’s mining industry.
A UN Security Council delegation has arrived in the central African country to set out security objectives it says must be met before 20 500 troops are pulled out by the end of 2011. The UN officials are expected to leave today, and the Security Council is to meet in New York before the end of the month to discuss a phased withdrawal from the DRC.
Mwana, based in London, is among companies that say the withdrawal of the force, known as Monuc, may create a security vacuum in the east of the country, leaving their operations vulnerable to armed groups. Johannesburg-based AngloGold and Toronto-based Banro Corporation also operate in the region.
“If there is no good security this could jeopardise the mining projects,” says Jean-Prosper Ngandu, DRC country manager for Mwana. “There is a risk. This is scary for investors,” he added.
“Even though there are problems, we can resolve the problems to ensure the security of our economic partners,” communications minister Lambert Mende said in an interview. “We don’t need Monuc. We’ll be able to resolve the problems ourselves.”
“The security situation isn’t totally guaranteed,” Guy- Robert Lukama, AngloGold’s representative in the DRC, said in an interview with Reuters. “However, we invested long-term, so we calculated that Monuc will leave at some point.”
The majority of Monuc’s forces are based in the DRC’s eastern borderlands, and various rebel groups roam the region, which stretches about 1,000 kilometers along the border with Rwanda, Uganda and Sudan, frequently attacking civilians and mines.
The UN is scheduled to pull out 2 000 of its troops by the end of June, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an April report. A full withdrawal may follow by 30 August 2011, he added.
“It’s too early for Monuc to leave,” Emmanuel Ndimubanzi, head of the national Mines Ministry in the North Kivu province, said in a recent interview. “There’s no safety yet. With Monuc leaving, the situation could get worse.”