What’s Behind Strange Gov’t Statements In This Major Copper Nation?

The mining industry got some much-welcomed good news late last week — from one of the world’s most important copper-producing centers. 

And then, abruptly, had it taken away. 

The place is the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s most critical producer of copper and cobalt. Where the government appears to be having trouble making up its mind over mining rules. 

The apparent good news from the DR Congo came last Wednesday. When the country’s mines minister, Martin Kabwelulu, said that officials had decided to scrap a proposed revision of national mining laws. 

Kabwelulu told attendees at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa that the government had decided to stick with its current mining code. Apparently ending a three-year review process — where officials had threatened to increase taxes and royalties. 

But the relief in the African copper sector didn’t last long. With Reuters reporting the next day that other members of the DR Congo mines ministry are continuing to say the mining law review is still ongoing. 

The news service cited an email sent to NGO Global Witness. Where the chief of staff for the mines minister said that the comments at the Indaba simply mean the old contact regime will stay in place until a new one is introduced. 

Said the email, “The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has not renounced revising the mining code. Quite the contrary.”

That strong wording makes it sound like the mining law review is still very much in motion. Although it’s possible this is simply posturing for observers at Global Witness — who had objected to the government dropping its pursuit of higher takes from mining. 

The next moves here will be telling — with the revised mining law having been submitted to the DR Congo’s parliament last March, but not yet approved. Watch for further announcements on a yea or nay here. 

Here’s to making up your mind,

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Dave Forest

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