Congo sees Rautenbach as root of CAMEC's
Wed May 17, 2007 7:43 PM BST
lifts ban on mineral exports
Reuters 04 mai. 07
Kinshasa - Mineral exports from Congo's
eastern Kivu provinces restarted on Thursday after the government
granted shipment licences to 11 companies, ending a two-week ban,
Mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo suspended exports from its
North and South Kivu provinces - which produce cassiterite, tungsten
ore and coltan - last month to ensure "counters" which process and
export minerals had licences.
"We have already started exporting today," Antoine Bizi, managing
director of Amir, one of the mineral-exporting companies which
operate in the provinces, told Reuters.
The ban on mineral exports from the Kivus announced on April 19 was
part of an effort by Congo's new government to tighten mining
regulations following the former Belgian colony's first free
elections in four decades last year.
The government, installed in February, required companies to apply
for licences that showed minerals were processed in Congo.
"We found that 11 (companies) had processing facilities. They met
the requirements. The minister signed their documents on Tuesday,"
Deputy Mines Minister Victor Kasongo told Reuters.
Mining in the Kivu provinces is largely small-scale. In order to
qualify for permits, counters must show they have the equipment
necessary to wash, crush and treat minerals.
Amir's Bizi said his company had continued to buy and stockpile
minerals while the ban was in force.
But other exporters operating in the Kivus complained that they had
not been granted licences.
Gilbert Makilele, director of the minerals exporter MH, said his
company had been operating within Congo's laws, even though it had
no treatment facilities of its own.
"We don't export untreated minerals. There are companies who do have
facilities and we pay a percentage to treat (our minerals) there,"
It was not clear how many more licences the government would grant.
The eastern border provinces exported 5 300 tons of cassiterite and
499 tons of tungsten ore, or wolframite, in 2006, and North Kivu
alone exported 40 tonnes of coltan.
But due to widespread smuggling, in many cases by armed militia and
the Congolese army, official exports represent only a fraction of
the minerals that make it over the border.
|DRC suspends new
mining deals and to review all contracts
REUTERS 03 Apr. 07
halting all current and future mining negotiations until a review
procedure for existing contracts can be implemented.
Posted: Monday , 02 Apr 2007
Democratic Republic of Congo is suspending negotiations on future
mining deals in the mineral-rich central African country until a
mechanism to review existing contracts is created, the minister of
The move had been widely anticipated following the installment in
early February of a new government in the vast, former Belgian
colony, which holds a tenth of the world's copper reserves and a
third of its cobalt reserves.
"The minister ... instructs state administrators of the mining
sector to suspend until fresh instructions all negotiation on new
partnerships until after the government has launched a review
procedure for existing contracts," Minister Martin Kabwelulu said in
a March 27 memo seen by Reuters.
Kabwelulu ordered that details of all existing mining partnerships
be delivered to his office by Wednesday, April 4 at the latest.
Any violations of the memo's orders would be subject to severe
sanctions, including the possible revoking of contracts, he said in
Interest in the Congo from major international mining companies has
soared since the country last year successfully held its first free
elections in 40 years, supervised and protected by the largest U.N.
peacekeeping force in the world.
President Joseph Kabila won the polls, which were aimed at ushering
in a new era of growth and stability after a devastating 1998-2003
war and years of chaos and corrupt rule.
Congolese officials had made clear that a sweeping review of mining
contracts was being prepared, following domestic and international
criticism that many deals signed during the war and the pre-election
transition contained irregularities.
"NEED TO HALT"
"It's part of the government's policy to reassess existing
contracts. Many companies are still trying to sign new contracts. We
have to halt for a moment," Deputy Minister of Mines Victor Kasongo
told Reuters on Monday.
He said some Congolese state mining officials had continued trying
to conclude new mining deals with foreign companies, despite
internal orders to the contrary.
"Most of the company officials are transitional government
appointees, who have nothing left to lose. They were signing deals
when instructions were given not to sign," he said.
Among the companies operating in Congo's fast-expanding mining
sector are the world's largest diversified miner BHP Billiton <BLT.L><BHP.AX>,
AngloGold Ashanti <ANGJ.J>, the world's third biggest gold producer,
and U.S. major Phelps Dodge, recently purchased by Freeport-McMoRan
Copper & Gold Inc. <FCX.N>.
Hopes for a stable democracy in Congo were dented last month when
militiamen loyal to former warlord and defeated presidential
contender Jean-Pierre Bemba battled with government troops for two
days in the capital Kinshasa.
Up to 600 people were reported to have been killed in the fighting,
European ambassadors said.
Work Office to improve the working conditions of miners -
MONUC - 20 mar. 07
International Work Office has just launched a project to improve the
working conditions of miners in the Katangan mines, which aims to
reinforce the institutional and human resource capacities in the DRC
mining sector. Furthermore, the project will be applied at
grassroots level, to encourage the mining industry towards good
governance, durable development, respecting workers rights, as well
as social dialogue.
This work will be executed in three phases. The conditions of work
in the Democratic Republic of Congo are inhuman, where men as well
as women and infants work to extract minerals in deep and poorly lit
mines without any protection.
Even though there are a lot of fatalities because of poor working
conditions, no measures have been taken to improve working
conditions in the mines. Even worse, the majority of miners work
without any form of contract. Because of all these reasons the
International Work Office (IWO) has initiated the project which has
four main parts.
The first consists of making a feasibility study of the needs of the
target groups in relation to the improvement of working, security
and health conditions of artisinal (informal) miners, and to
reinforce the capacity of partners (syndicates and others),
according to their needs and capacities.
The second part consists of reinforcing social dialogue and worker
and employer representation, particularly in the informal sector. A
joint tripartite mines committee will be put in place with the aim
of institutionalizing social dialogue, both for the formal and
informal mining sectors
As well as partnership, the inspection of the mining work will
commence and the workers themselves will be trained in mediation and
advice techniques with the aim of resolving work conflicts.
The third part concerns the organisation of informal workers into
cooperatives. The IWO will support the organization of EMAK (an
informal organization for the training of artisinal miners), which
has institutional weaknesses, especially a lack of management
The project also aims to reinforce, in the form of pilot projects,
the capacities of cooperative members, to organise and develop
productive activities with the aim of creating proper working
It will also support the reinforcement of a female artisinal
cooperative with the same aim.
Finally, there will be sensibilisation campaign at the national and
international level with regard to social responsibility in the
mining sector, in partnership with “Group One”.
This project also aims to enlighten important actors and public
opinion on the working conditions in the mines. It will evaluate the
impact of the improvement in the working conditions and productivity
of the target groups, and will launch a national campaign which will
focus on this issue, as well as the economic potential of the mining
Therefore, once the feasibility study has been realised, a network
of trainers will be created who will focus on the improvement of
working, health, security and environmental conditions in the mines,
as well as the productivity and capacities of workers.
The training and a sensibilisation campaign for workers and
employers in the sector will focus on the impact of HIV/Aids and the
code of conduct of the IWO. The training and sensibilisation classes
will be also given to local communities, local authorities,
employers and others in need.
They will also be given support in organising a mutual community
health insurance fund. After this, they will a sensibilisation
campaign on the strategy of promotion of social dialogue, adapted to
the particular needs of the mining sector.
This work will succeed in developing a culture of dialogue, with the
creation of the tripartite committee in the mining sector and the
putting in place of a watchdog project
through a pilot provincial committee, under the tutelage of the
Canadian mining firm of ‘cheating’
March 10, 2007
Ltd, an Australia-based gold mining company listed on the Toronto
Stock Exchange has found itself in the thick of an embarrassing
controversy with authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
over a gold mining contract it entered into with the state-owned
Okimo Mines Ltd in 2003.
The Canadian company, which operates in Congo under a local
subsidiary, Borgakim Ltd, has been accused by the Congo government
of misrepresenting to the markets the true value of the rights
granted to it over some eight mines within the Kilomoto area, thus
managing to raise between $60 million and $80 million from the
Toronto Stock Exchange.
Apparently, the agreement covered a total of eight mines, seven of
which were leased to the Canadians by Okimo Ltd under terms whereby
the Canadian company will earn 70 per cent of the revenue and the
state-owned company 30 per cent.
The eighth mine — consisting of Karagwa, Durba and Chauffeur mines —
with indicated and inferred reserves of 12 million ounces of gold —
was granted to the Canadians on a service contract basis.
According to articles three and four of the service agreement on the
property, the Canadians were to act as financial and technical
consultants and undertake an extensive exploration programme to
establish a proven reserve base after which Okimo Ltd will undertake
The agreement also stipulated that the Canadians would rehabilitate
the infrastructure of the world famous Kilomoto mines.
The agreement further stated that the company would invest up to
$100 million and be paid 70 per cent of revenues for a period to be
determined at a later date — after which date 100 per cent ownership
and the operations would revert back to the state.
Four years later, the total expenditure to date, as reported by the
Canadians themselves, on the eight mines is over $25 million, of
which some $4 million-$11 million was spent on the eight properties
under the service contract.
According to Congolese authorities, the Canadians have not spent any
money on rehabilitation of the physical facility and have instead
been concentrating on drilling the mines for more gold, which the
authorities believe is a tactic to shore up the market
capitalisation of Moto Mines at the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The controversy escalated when officials of the Canadian company
told the Reuters news agency on February 26 that the company was
still awaiting ratification of another protocol signed with the
authorities in November 2006 before it can consolidate its
The following day — February 27 — Assistant Minister for Mineral
Exploration, Victor Kassongo told Reuters that a notice had been
given to the Canadian company on January 26 informing them that the
view of the government was that they (Moto Mines) were in breach of
the contract on four of the mining properties.
Officials in Kinshasa have expressed concern that the Canadians have
given a perception to the investing public that it is earning an
interest and owns some other mines and has — contrary to the
agreement — used proprietory information to promote the company’s
stock on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Market watchers are following the controversy closely to see whether
there are parallels with Bre-X Ltd — formerly a Canadian listed
company, that lost billions in the stockmarket within days over
claims that it had misrepresented the value of gold properties it
owned and managed in Indonesia.
In response to the statement by Congo authorities, the Canadian
officials are claiming that Okimo’s notice is unjustified and the
state-owned body is in breach of contract.
Meanwhile, a Paris-based law firm — White & Case — which was engaged
by authorities in Kinshasa to look into the matter, has supported
DRC’s position, pointing out that the agreement on the disputed
mines merely gave the Canadians the right to provide technical and
financial assistance at a fee — and not an option to earn interest.
Mining pundits in the region are seeing parallels with a deal
between Kenya and China’s National Offshore Oil Co-operation, which
has been given rights over six oil exploration blocks but has
secretly gone behind the government’s back to seek joint partners
without informing Kenyan authorities.
As the ministry awaits the outcome of the Moto saga, Mr Kassongo
told The EastAfrican in an exclusive interview that the government’s
plan in the coming months will be to take Okimo Ltd to the public
market through the Toronto Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange and
its AIM market.
The minister said the government plans to raise $45 million by
selling 15 per cent stake of the state company. The proceeds will be
used to rehabilitate the mining infrastructure and also in an
extensive exploration programme.
Mr Kassongo also disclosed that he had started discussions with
Uganda’s Department of Geological Survey and Mines to see if joint
surveys can be undertaken.
The new Kinshasa government says it wants the mining industry to
contribute $1 billion in revenues in the next 12 months said Mr
To achieve this, he further said that the government is reviewing
all mining contracts and re-evaluating the commitments and
obligations international mining companies have made. “Those in
default will be advised to ‘shape up or ship out,” he said.
Mr Kassongo lamented that although Congo is endowed with significant
minerals and known reserves, its annual budget is only $2.5 billion
compared with Angola which has an annual budget of over $29 billion
Copper/cobalt bull elephants
square up in the DRC
An extraordinary drama unfolds in the multi billon dollar
Katanga copper-cobalt fields as Camec gains control of 22
percent of Katanga Mining with an agreement to purchase another
Author: Barry Sergeant
Posted: Sunday , 06 May 2007
In events that have confounded even
some specialist investors, Central African Mining (Camec,
LSE:CFM, £0.56 a share) announced on Friday that its has gained
control of 17m shares in Katanga Mining (TSX:KAT, C$15.63), a
stake of 22%, and has an agreement to buy another 7.7%. The cold
transactions belie an extraordinary drama unfolding in the multi
billon dollar Katanga copper-cobalt fields.
One important link is Billy
Rautenbach, a Zimbabwean citizen who South African authorities
want on South African soil. On Sunday, sources in Harare
confirmed that Rautenbach would be leaving the city on Monday,
for Lubumbashi, in the Katanga province of the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC). It is understood that Rautenbach
may be leaving Harare for good, given the recent filing in
Harare of extradition papers by South African authorities.
It is no secret
that following a deal in February last year, Rautenbach holds
around 17% of Camec's shares. The issue that's likely to burn
some tender parts in investment circles is the presence of
Georges Forrest, the "old King of the Congo", and a standing 22%
shareholder in Katanga Mining. Of all the projects in the
fabulously copper-cobalt rich Katanga province, some with
dubious pedigrees, few have cleaner papers than Katanga Mining,
Nikanor (LSE:NKR, £6.19) and Tenké Mining Corp (TSX: TNK,
C$25.01), owned 57.75% by copper giant Freeport McMoRan (NY:FCX,
However, of these
three mega projects, there is no question that Katanga Mining
will be first in production. Nikanor is battling with cost
overruns and an intractable flooding problem, while the Tenké
Fungurumé project may only come on stream early in 2009. At
Katanga Mining, operational cost over the life of mining is
likely to be around $0.45/lb, amongst the lowest in the world.
First copper production is anticipated in December 2007.
While Camec is
known not least for executives Phil Edmonds, who once played
cricket for England, and Andrew Groves, a young wheeler dealer,
Katanga Mining is characterised by a small army of professional
mining executives, not least Robert Buchan and Arthur Ditto, who
each own around 7.5% of the company.
The background to
the past week's power outbreak in Katanga can be most
conveniently traced back to February last year, when Camec
bought Rautenbach's apparent rights to mining concessions 467,
469 (previously named C19 & C21) in Katanga province, and 50% of
the cobalt-rich Mukondo concession. The other half of Mukondo
was sold in June for around $60m by John Bredenkamp, also a
Zimbabwean, to Dan Gertler, known as the "new King of the
Congo". Gertler is a 14% shareholder in cash-strapped Nikanor,
which last week announced that it was involved in negotiations
over a possible change of control.
foreigner closest to the ear of DRC president Joseph Kabila,
immediately ordered a halt to activities on Mukondo, and nobody
appears to be clear about what happened next. Rautenbach's
intractable attitude has played a part, along with his contract
with Camec to run Mukondo.
fiercely denied any problems with ore supplies; on the contrary,
on March 1, it stated that it's on target to produce 40,000
tonnes of copper cathode and 6,000 tonnes of cobalt cathode and
concentrate for the 2007-8 financial year. Camec's DRC
metallurgical facility, moreover, has targeted annual production
template capacity of 100,000 tonnes a year of copper cathode,
according to Camec, and 12,000 tonnes a year of cobalt cathode
had squabbles in and around the Katanga copper-cobalt belts for
years. In November 1998, he was named the MD of state-owned
copper-cobalt miner La Générale des Carrières et des Mines
(Gécamines) during a visit to Harare by then-DRC president
Laurent-Désiré Kabila. Some of Gécamines' best cobalt-producing
areas were transferred to a joint venture between Rautenbach's
Ridgepointe International and the Central Mining Group, a
Congolese company controlled by Pierre-Victor Mpoyo, then DRC
minister of state. Rautenbach, who had no mining experience, was
also made MD of the joint venture. Rautenbach's business
practices saw Kabila replace him with Forrest in March 2000.
stripped of all connections to Katanga, including the Kambove
and Kakanda processing plants, and the large parcel of deposits
known as the Kababancola Concessions, including Mukondo. These
assets were officially transferred to Bredenkamp's Tremalt,
which established a new joint venture, Kababancola Mining
It was thus that
Bredenkamp held rights to exploit six Gécamines concessions
containing at least 2.7m tonnes of copper and 325,000 tonnes of
cobalt over 25 years, all for a piffling payment of just
$400,000. Put another way, Bredenkamp continued where Rautenbach
left off, but split the profits as to 34% for the DRC
government, 34% for the Zimbabwe government, and 32% for Tremalt,
after generous gratuity payments to senior political and
military figures in the DRC and Zimbabwe.
assassinated in January 2001, and replaced by his son Joseph and
it was another year before Rautenbach's name cropped up again.
This time he emerged as one of the largest exporters of
heterogenite (cobalt ore) from the DRC, via Congo Cobalt
Company, known as CoCoCo.
Rautenbach's name was also linked to another DRC entity, Boss
Mining which, it was said, had acquired two lucrative mining
concessions, C19 and C21, as well as 50% of Mukondo. These were,
of course, part of the same portfolio of assets once stripped
from Rautenbach and dealt to Bredenkamp.
Early last year,
in an affidavit submitted to the British Virgin Islands High
Court by a Rautenbach ex-partner, Geneva-based lawyer James
Anthony Tidmarsh, Rautenbach was allegedly offered an
opportunity as a "sleeping partner" in KMC, but refused and
launched an international arbitration action to challenge his
being stripped of the concessions.
In April 2002,
Rautenbach withdrew the application following a settlement with
the government of the DRC. KMC was apparently simply presented
with an instruction from the DRC government to transfer its most
valuable assets to Rautenbach's Boss Mining, or face losing the
Camec has played
the Mukondo issue right down. In its interim results notice on
December 5 2006, shareholders were told that Camec's "joint
venture partners at Mukondo were taken over and the new owners
gave us formal notice to terminate operations until a new
operational agreement was effected". In other words, Gertler
wanted a fair deal.
continuing, but, Camec added, as Camec's Luita processing plant
comes on stream, Mukondo operations "become of less relevance".
Concessions C19 and C21, Camec stated, "host numerous
significant copper cobalt deposits, which are already being
developed to feed Luita to maximum capacity".
The DRC recently
appointed a Commission under the authority of the Minister of
Mines to review various mining agreements entered into by the
DRC government, or by state bodies such as Gécamines, within a
period prior to mid-July 2007. Some 60 mining agreements fell
for review starting on May 15, with a decision expected after
Katanga Mining's Kamoto agreement
was ratified by presidential decree on August 4 2005; Nikanor's
titles were similarly ratified on October 13 2005, and the Tenké
Fungurumé agreements on October 27 2005. However, presidential
decrees are not everything, and even these contracts may be
scrutinized for fairness and equity. In Camec's case, by
contrast, objections may be raised over more fundamental issues,
not least how the contracts were first obtained during the DRC's
1997-2003 war, under the Zimbabwe military's Operation Sovereign
Congo Suspends Negotiations on Mining Deals
By Franz Wild- VOA -
Kinshasa 02 April 2007
Democratic Republic of Congo has
suspended all negotiations on mining contracts, while reviews
existing deals. Home to a 10th of the world's copper, with
substantial gold, diamond and cobalt deposits, Congo has
attracted billions of dollars of mining investment in recent
years. Franz Wild has the details for VOA from Kinshasa.
Government officials are not to engage in any negotiations over
mining contracts until further notice, Mines Minister Martin
Kabwelulu said in a ministerial order seen by VOA.
Since taking office a month ago, Kabwelulu has established a
commission to review all existing contracts. He said this
process should be completed before further deals are made.
Non-governmental organizations say corrupt officials signed off
on many of the lucrative agreements made under shady
circumstances during Congo's recent transition period.
Kabwelulu's commission will recommend modifications to deals
that are unfair to the state. The government will then discuss
possible changes with the companies concerned. No contracts will
He said companies must submit all documents relating to their
deals by Wednesday. Any breach of his instructions will be
considered an "economic crime" and incur "severe punishment".
Congo's first democratic government in four decades hopes its
mining sector will power the war-torn country's renewal. Two
civil wars left four million people dead between 1996 and 2003.
Congo Reopens Border for Export of Copper,
Cobalt Ore to Zambia - Bloomberg
- 22 mar. 07
March 21 (Bloomberg) -- The
Democratic Republic of Congo authorized more than 400 copper and
cobalt-laden trucks to cross into Zambia, after earlier blocking
exports of unrefined ore.
Moise Katumbi, the governor of Congo's Katanga province, gave
orders on March 3 to stop exports of the raw material to
neighboring Zambia, as the country tries to halt an illegal
trade that costs it $1.5 billion annually.
Chililabombwe District Commissioner Timothy Musonda said the
truck drivers were released after being detained by Congolese
authorities for demonstrating against the delay.
A 10th of the world's copper reserves and a third of its cobalt
reserves are found in the central African nation. Congo's first
democratic government in four decades is trying to rebuild an
economy shattered by a five-year long civil war, which ended in
2003 leaving 4 million dead.
Metorex Ltd. Manager Grant Dempsey said the company's trucks
carrying copper concentrate, a raw material processed by
smelters, had started moving through the border as they travel
to the company's Kabwe site in Zambia for refining.
Metorex, a South African metals producer, said today that it
plans to construct a $180 million plant in the Congo to refine
copper. Production at the plant will start in January.
``We're quite confident we'll be given leeway till the plant is
operational,'' Dempsey said.
African Diamonds Acquires Shares for Exploration in DRC
Business in Africa (Johannesburg)
March 12, 2007
Diamonds plc, the AIM and Botswana-listed diamond explorer, has
acquired a 35.42 percent share in Bugeco S.A., a private Belgian
company and with it, the right to appoint a director. The total
consideration paid was $1,616,420 in cash.
The key asset of Bugeco is a joint venture with De Beers on 21
licenses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), covering 807
000 hectares of prospective diamondiferous ground. Initial
exploration has discovered several new kimberlites, in an area where
alluvial diamonds are already in evidence. Analysis indicates the
presence of microdiamonds in several of the newly discovered
The DRC is a recognized multi resource country that is experiencing
a surge of mining investment and is currently host to many multi
national corporations for both exploration and production including,
Phelps Dodge, Anglo Gold and BHP Billiton. Historically the DRC was
one of the largest diamond producers in the world and may well
regain that position in the coming years as it has acknowledged
Since the start of exploration under the Bugeco De Beers JV, over an
original license area of 18 000 sq km. comprehensive exploration has
identified priority areas which allowed relinquishment of ground of
little importance for kimberlites. Significant progress has been
made in prospecting the remaining high interest ground:
Several new kimberlites have been discovered to date in what appears
to be two new kimberlite clusters.
Reconnaissance magnetic and detailed airborne magnetic (DAF)
geophysical surveys have been completed over the entire license area
and ground magnetic, gravity and electromagnetic surveys over
specific anomalies have resulted in the identification of new drill
Extensive ground sampling using helicopter and vehicle access is
The 2007 work programme will focus on further discovery drilling and
delineation. This work will prioritise bulk sampling.
Chairman of African Diamonds, John Teeling said that "this is a rare
opportunity to take a stake in a highly prospective diamond play
where new diamond-bearing kimberlites have already been found and
more discoveries are expected. Aside from Botswana, where African
Diamonds is a significant player, the DRC is one of the most
prospective diamond areas in the world; Kasai is a province long
renowned for its diamond resources.
"The combination of the excellent operational staff, our successful
De Beers JV experience in Botswana, intimate in-country knowledge
through Bugeco and the very attractive geological prospects make
this an ideal fit for African Diamonds."
|DRC warns mining companies
Democratic Republic of Congo's government will revoke companies'
right to mine properties if they fail to meet state deadlines, Moise
Katumbi, the governor of the mineral-rich Katanga province, said on
"Those people that don't honor their promises, we are going to take
them - mining permits - back," KatumbI said.
The Katanga province generates an estimated 70% of the DRC's
economy. It contains most of the country's base metals wealth.
Katumbi's comments follow a dispute between South Africa's Exxaro
Resources and Canada's First Quantum Minerals and Gecamines, the
DRC's state-owned mining company.
Exxaro and First Quantum are suing the DRC government after losing
the right to mine the Kipushi zinc mine in Katanga province. The
project has been put out to international tender and a winner is
expected to be announced soon.
Katumbi said Gecamines had over five years attempted to contact
Exxaro and First Quantum. "Now the price of zinc is high, they want
to develop the mine."
criminals, these people," says Katumbi. "How many times Gecamines
tried to contact them?"
Exxaro CEO Con Fauconnier said he was philosophical regarding a
dispute with Gecamines. “If we can’t do business on our terms, we’ll
take our money elsewhere,” he said on Thursday.
Exxaro Resources and its joint venture partner, Canada’s First
Quantum Minerals, claim to have an agreement to develop Kipushi.
Exxaro also has a claim to develop another mine known as Kamoto.
Both agreements date from the 1990s.
However, Paul Fortin, CEO of Gecamines, said in an interview with
Miningmx on February 10 he was convinced by legal advice claiming no
such agreement existed. “I will see them in court,” he said.
Kipushi, is estimated by Bloomberg News to contain 16.9 million
tonnes of ore containing 2.8 million tonnes of zinc and a further
392,755 tonnes of copper. Bloomberg News said the ore was worth
$11bn according to metal prices on February 13.
|Congo government rejects firing of
Reuters - 02 mar. 07 - 15.46h
KINSHASA, March 2
(Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo's new government refused to
accept the dismissal of the head of state-owned copper and cobalt
mining company Gecamines on Friday, a day after the decision
provoked protests by employees.
French engineering consultancy SOFRECO, which was brought in by
Congo's government and the World Bank to help salvage the struggling
firm, dismissed Canadian Paul Fortin on Wednesday.
Hundreds of employees stopped work on Thursday and picketed
Gecamines' headquarters in Lubumbashi, the capital of the
mineral-rich Katanga province, calling for Fortin to be reinstated.
Victor Kasongo, Congo's newly-appointed deputy minister of mines,
told Reuters the government rejected the decision.
"The government still considers Paul Fortin the head of Gecamines.
SOFECO took a decision on its own. That goes against the terms of
the agreement of the World Bank," he said.
Though Fortin was recruited for the Gecamines CEO job by the French
firm, his appointment required a special order by President Joseph
Kabila. Kasongo said that means his dismissal needed the approval of
the president and the mines minister.
SOFECO officials could not be immediately reached.
Gilbert Kankela, Fortin's assistant, said SOFECO alleged the
Gecamines CEO had not fulfilled his obligations to them.
Kankela said employees were back at work on Friday and mining
production had not been affected by the strike.
In an effort to shake up the loss-making and debt-laden company,
Fortin unveiled plans to more than double production and even launch
a possible share listing. He also warned he would cancel inactive
partnerships with foreign firms.
Last year, Gecamines launched a tender for partners on the Kipushi
mine, dismissing threats of legal action from South Africa's Kumba
resources (KMBJ.J: Quote, Profile , Research) and Canada's First
Quantum (FM.TO: Quote, Profile , Research) which claimed they had
signed a partnership deal. Fortin denied this.
Gecamines, Congo's largest state-owned mining company, once
accounted for the majority of the central African state's exports
but is now barely functioning.
After decades of mismanagement and years of political turmoil and
armed conflict, the company produced around 17,000 tonnes of copper
in 2005, compared to 440,000 tonnes in 1989.
Much of Gecamines' mining infrastructure is currently in ruins and
its debt currently stands at $2.4 billion. However, a World
Bank-backed plan to save the company has succeeded in bringing in
In December, Phelps-Dodge (PD.N: Quote, Profile , Research)
announced it planned to go ahead with development of its Tenke
Fungureme concession in Katanga, on the same day Kabila took office
as Congo's first democratically elected president in more than four
Tenke Fungurume is considered to be one of the largest, highest
grade, undeveloped copper/cobalt concessions in the world. And the
mining giant has conditionally agreed to sink an initial $650
million into the project, which is expected to be at full production
in two years.
Other foreign miners such as Canada's First Quantum (FQM.L: Quote,
Profile , Research)(FM.TO: Quote, Profile , Research), Nikanor Plc (NKR.L:
Quote, Profile , Research) and Katanga Mining (KAT.TO: Quote,
Profile , Research) are also investing hundreds of millions of