Who stands to lose?

The Africa Report - - FRONTLINE -

THE OLIG A RCHS Ivan Glasen­berg

Glen­core and its in­vestors have a Congo dilemma. If it was not for its buc­ca­neer­ing style and wheel­erdeal­ing in Congo’s cop­per and cobalt in­dus­try, Glen­core would not have evolved from a se­cre­tive Switer­land-based com­mod­ity trader to a global min­er­als pro­ducer. Now, it’s pay­back time. First, Glen­core and its fel­low for­eign min­ing houses are do­ing bat­tle with the gov­ern­ment’s re­source-na­tion­al­ist poli­cies. De­spite their hard-bar­gain­ing rep­u­ta­tions, firms such as Glen­core and Rand­gold have made heavy con­ces­sions over the new min­ing code. Glen­core’s sec­ond front is its bat­tle with the US reg­u­la­tors, both for its ties to Dan Gertler (a busi­ness part­ner of Pres­i­dent Ka­bila now un­der US sanc­tions), and in its own right as an op­er­a­tor in DRC, Nige­ria and Venezuela. The US wants to see a decade of Glen­core’s ac­counts and records of its op­er­a­tions in Congo to check it has com­plied with anti-cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing statutes. CEO Ivan Glasen­berg an­nounced in Oc­to­ber that he would be step­ping down within three years.

THE CHI­NESE Li Chaochun

Richard Muyej, gov­er­nor of the cop­per-rich Lual­aba prov­ince, put it best at a re­gional min­ing con­fer­ence in June: “Ev­ery­thing has be­come Chi­nese.” Since the turn of the cen­tury Chi­nese com­pa­nies have built up a dom­i­nant po­si­tion in Congo’s cop­per in­dus­try. The key mo­ment was in Jan­uary 2017, when China Molyb­de­num, which is chaired by Li Chaochun, bought the ma­jor­ity stake in Tenke Fun­gu­rume, which con­trols the coun­try’s big­gest mine. Sym­bolic of this rise is the for­ma­tion of a 35-strong Union of Min­ing Com­pa­nies with Chi­nese Cap­i­tal, whose mem­bers in­clude China Moly and Si­comines, the joint ven­ture be­tween Syno­hy­dro, China Rail­way and Congo state eq­uity. Yet Chi­nese com­pa­nies are not im­mune from the pres­sures other com­pa­nies face in Congo. So China Moly and Zi­jin Min­ing joined forces with the Western-dom­i­nated ‘G7’ com­pa­nies try­ing to se­cure a bet­ter deal from the re­forms of the min­ing code. To­gether those firms claim to pro­duce 80% of Congo’s cop­per, cobalt and gold. Yet so far they have ex­tracted few con­ces­sions from Kin­shasa.

THE K A BIL A FACTI ON Joseph Ka­bila

Poli­to­logues in Kin­shasa gave Ka­bila at most a year at the helm when he took over. He had no sup­port base, no po­lit­i­cal or ad­min­is­tra­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, his el­e­va­tion to the pres­i­dency was lit­tle more than an ac­ci­dent of birth. But Ka­bila built a team of ca­pa­ble al­lies and out­played po­lit­i­cal ri­vals. Ka­bila’s top ad­viser, Au­gustin Ka­tumba Mwanke, or­ches­trated the ri­val fac­tions within Ka­bila’s clan and ne­go­ti­ated all min­ing deals, be­fore his death in 2012. In the early days Ka­bila was be­friended by Is­raeli min­ing mag­nate Dan Gertler. Global Wit­ness has called Gertler ‘the gate­keeper’. Com­pa­nies linked to Gertler cost the DRC $1.3bn in lost rev­enues ac­cord­ing to the Africa Progress Panel. The cosy re­la­tion­ships with com­pa­nies may be shaken up. The head of Gé­camines, Al­bert Yuma Mulimbi, and mines min­is­ter Martin Kab­welulu, called the bluff of the in­ter­na­tional min­ing com­pa­nies with a tough new min­ing code. As the com­pa­nies mull le­gal ac­tion, the mes­sage from poker-play­ing Ka­bila is: “I’ll see you.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Botswana

© PressReader. All rights reserved.