Min­ers, in­vestors un­cer­tain about fu­ture in DRC

Cape Times - - NATION -

THE SUR­PRISE out­come of Congo’s elec­tion – a vote meant to bring clo­sure to years of tur­moil un­der Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila – has done lit­tle to ease uncer­tainty for min­ers and in­vestors in a coun­try cru­cial to the elec­tric ve­hi­cle rev­o­lu­tion.

The DRC is the world’s lead­ing miner of cobalt, a min­eral used in elec­tric car bat­ter­ies which has seen a surge in de­mand in re­cent years, with mines run by firms in­clud­ing Glen­core and China Molyb­de­num.

Op­po­si­tion can­di­date Felix Tshisekedi, an un­known quan­tity for min­ing ex­ec­u­tives, was de­clared the win­ner of last month’s chaotic vote on Thurs­day, de­feat­ing Ka­bila’s cho­sen suc­ces­sor, Em­manuel Ra­mazani Shadary.

The stakes for min­ing firms are high. In a study last year, McKin­sey fore­cast a 60% in­crease in de­mand for cobalt by 2025, and cited uncer­tainty in Con­golese gov­ern­ment pol­icy as one of the ma­jor risks to sup­ply.

Tshisekedi has lit­tle po­lit­i­cal track record for in­vestors to judge.

Re­la­tions be­tween min­ers and the gov­ern­ment hit a nadir over the code, signed into law in March, which raised roy­alty rates across the board.

“In­creas­ing taxes on multi­na­tion­als was way too pop­u­lar a move to eas­ily turn back,” a source said.

Five min­ing ex­ec­u­tives con­tacted by Reuters said they were not yet op­er­at­ing on the as­sump­tion that Tshisekedi’s win would be val­i­dated by the Ka­bila-ap­pointed Con­sti­tu­tional Court and ex­pected the out­go­ing pres­i­dent to fight to keep his stran­gle­hold on the sec­tor. None wanted to speak on the record.

Com­pa­nies could find them­selves caught in the cross­fire of turf wars over min­istry jobs and po­si­tions in the bu­reau­cracy, not know­ing who is re­ally in charge.

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