Battery driven Cobalt boom triggers a DRC mining code revision to broaden mining royalties - continued
It sets out taxes of up to 5% on "strategic metals" - most likely including cobalt - and 6% on precious stones.
Kinshasa is introducing a form of economic patriotism by raising the stake of the state in the capital of mining companies and outsourcing tasks related to the industry "only to firms in which the majority of the capital is owned by Congolese nationals".
DR Congo authorities also want to ensure the repatriation of at least 40% of the revenue of minerals that are sold for export.
Multinational firms have fired back, charging that the new mining code would "significantly weaken the confidence of investors", in a joint letter to the speakers of both houses of parliament.
The protest was signed by the Congolese subsidiaries of giants in the sector, China Molybdenum, Rangold, the Swiss firm Glencore and MMG, an Australian- Chinese venture.
"Our partners have for 15 years - these words aren't too strong - cheated and stolen from us. That has to stop," the chief executive officer of the powerful Gecamines state mining firm, Albert Yuma, stormed in November.
'Regime cash machine'
The DRC should control its mineral resources like "our Arab brothers have benefitted from the control of oil," said Yuma, leader of the national business community and close to President Joseph Kabila.
Kabila's second and last elected five-year mandate ended on December 20, 2016, but has been extended in a church-brokered deal at the cost of severe repression.
The vast money in mining has to be seen in the context of DR Congo's chronic reputation for corruption and the deep poverty that afflicts most of its 80 million citizens.
Reliable figures for turnover and employment in the mining industry are elusive in a country where much economic activity is unregistered and even the size of the population is unknown, given the absence of a recent census.
Last July the British NGO Global Witness described the mining sector as the regime's "cash machine" and its revenues were being wasted by a "toxic combination of corruption and mismanagement".
In November, US NGO the Carter Centre estimated that $USD750million generated by mining production between 2011 and 2014 could not be traced in any "reliable fashion" in Gecamines’ s accounts, an assertion that the company angrily rejects.
Documents released last November in the "Paradise Papers" leak said that Swiss firm Glencore acquired a Congolese mine for a pittance in 2007 through controversial Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler.
In 2013, the NGO Africa Progress Panel analysed five mining sales to offshore companies linked to Gertler's firm.
"Together the five deals cost the DRC at least $USD1.36 billion, an amount equal to almost twice the DRC's combined annual budget for health and education in 2012," it said.