DRC urged to re­veal terms of min­ing sale

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

The Carter Cen­ter Fri­day called on the gov­ern­ment of the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo (DRC) to re­veal the terms un­der which a state firm sold a min­ing con­ces­sion to a sub­sidiary of Swiss group Glen­core.

“The Carter Cen­ter urges the gov­ern­ment of the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of the Congo to re­lease the terms of the deal in which state- owned min­ing com­pany Ge­camines lost its in­ter­est in the po­ten­tially rich Kawama con­ces­sion,” the or­ga­ni­za­tion founded by for­mer U.S. pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter said.

The Bloomberg news agency on Wed­nes­day re­vealed the unan­nounced deal, in which Ge­camines sold the con­ces­sion in the min­eral-rich Katanga province in the coun­try’s south­east to Mu­tanga Min­ing.

The Swiss min­ing and com­modi­ties gi­ant owns 69 per­cent of Mu­tanda Min­ing, while Is­raeli bil­lion­aire Dan Gertler’s Fleuret­tee Group holds the other 31 per­cent.

Crit­ics claim Gertler, who is close to Con­golese Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila, built his for­tune by ac­quir­ing min­ing per­mits in the DRC in du­bi­ous cir­cum­stances, although he has al­ways de­nied this.

Ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg, the Kawama con­ces­sion, po­ten­tially rich in cop­per and cobalt, was ac­quired from a joint ven­ture in which Ge­camines holds a mi­nor­ity in­ter­est.

“I can con­firm. Yes, we have ac­quired per­mit 658,” Glen­core spokesman told AFP.

Ques­tioned by AFP, Fleurette Group de­clined to com­ment. A source close to the case said Glen­core, as a ma­jor­ity part­ner of Mu­tanda Min­ing, had “op­er­a­tional con­trol” of the man­age­ment of that com­pany.

Un­der Con­golese law, the gov­ern­ment is re­quired to pub­lish any trans­fer of state re­sources within two months, but the Fe­bru­ary sale of the Kawama con­ces­sion only came to light through Bloomberg’s re­port.

No gov­ern­ment re­ac­tion could be ob­tained af­ter the an­nounce­ment of the sale.

The DRC was ad­mit­ted in July 2014 as a full mem­ber of the Ex­trac­tive In­dus­tries Trans­parency Ini­tia­tive (EITI), which “is a global stan­dard to pro­mote open and ac­count­able man­age­ment of nat­u­ral re­sources.”

The In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund in 2012 sus­pended a line of credit to the DRC af­ter fail­ing to ob­tain suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion on a trans­fer of shares in a min­ing com­pany in the state port­fo­lio.

The coun­try has enor­mous po­ten­tial min­eral wealth, with huge re­serves of cobalt, cop­per, di­a­monds, gold, sil­ver, zinc and ura­nium largely in the east.

But con­flict, along with pil­lag­ing, illegal min­ing and a lack of in­vest­ment, have kept the coun­try clas­si­fied as low-in­come, with 70 per­cent of peo­ple liv­ing be­low the poverty line.

Charles Waten­phul

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