Congo Reviewing Mining Barter Deal with Chinese Firms
Reuters reported that Democratic Republic of Congo's government is reviewing its USD 6 billion infrastructure-for-minerals deal with Chinese investors as part of a broader examination of mining contracts. Finance Minister Nicolas Kazadi told Reuters “2007 deal agreed with Chinese state-owned firms Sinohydro Corp and China Railway Group Limited was also being reviewed to ensure it is fair and effective.”
President Mr Felix Tshisekedi said in May that some mining contracts could be reviewed because of concerns they are not sufficiently benefiting Congo, which is the world's largest producer of cobalt and Africa's leading miner of copper. His government announced this month it had formed a commission to reassess the reserves and resources at China Molybdenum's massive Tenke Fungurume copper and cobalt mine in order to fairly lay claim to its rights.
Under the deal struck with the government of Tshisekedi's predecessor, Joseph Kabila, Sinohydro and China Railway agreed to build roads and hospitals in exchange for a 68% stake in the Sicomines venture. The deal formed a key part of Kabila's development plan for the country, but critics say few of the promised infrastructure projects have been fully realised and have complained about a lack of transparency.
Chinese investors control about 70% of Congo's mining sector, according to Congo's chamber of mines, after snapping up lucrative projects from Western companies in recent years.