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DRC miners blame international investors for lack of progress

Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) state mining company has recently placed the blame on lack of progress in the country on international investors and anticorruption activists.

Nongovernmental organizations including the Atlanta-based Carter Center and London-based Global Witness have accused Gecamines of failing to account for hundreds of millions of dollars paid to the state miner by the companies exporting copper and cobalt from the Central African nation.

Gecamines president Albert Yuma launched a report earlier on this week refuting the allegations and insisting that foreign producers are responsible for the industry’s meager contribution to national development. He further pledged to renegotiate existing partnerships with foreign mining investors.  According to Yuma, the unsolicited allegations will only serve to destabilize the country and in turn serve foreign demand for the country’s mineral riches.

DRC is Africa’s biggest copper producer and the world’s largest source of cobalt. The Carter Center said last November that almost US $750m of royalties, signing bonuses and asset-sale proceeds due to Gecamines from deals with joint venture partners between 2011 and 2014 couldn’t be reliably tracked to the company’s accounts.

Gecamines, a junior shareholder in most of DRC’s mining projects, denied any money is missing. It paid US $372m to the national Treasury between 2009 and 2014, significantly higher than figures put forward by the Carter Center and Global Witness, according to the report.

The report echoed Yuma’s repeated claims that Gecamines’ existing partnerships are too generous to the foreign investors. This, it stated, provides a bad deal for the country. In 2017, output at DRC mines was more than one-million tonnes of copper and 81,000 tonnes of cobalt.

In June, Glencore-controlled Katanga Mining agreed to write off US $5.6bn of debt at its Kamoto Copper Company (KCC). This was for purposes of ending a lawsuit filed by Gecamines to dissolve the subsidiary.

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