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DRC's Gécamines says foreign mining companies are to blame for the country's lost wealth



Gécamines, a state-owned miner in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has launched a blaster attack against international mining companies and said "charges of corruption against the company are" hypocrisy. "

Albert Yuma, chairman of Gécamines, said foreign mining companies had caused the DRC, one of the poorest countries in the world, to lose billions of dollars in expected revenues over the past decade.

By "under-evaluating the results of project companies in the DRC," Gécamines said the DRC has lost $ 4.9bn in revenues between 2002 and 2016, when compared to preliminary projections promised by feasibility studies.

The report comes after the imposition of higher mining taxes in the DRC this year under a new law passed by President Joseph Kabila in March. The revision of the country's 2002 mining code has been vigorously opposed by international companies including Glencore, Ivanhoe Mines, and China Molybdenum, based in Switzerland.

Gécamines, a minority equity partner in most mining projects in the country, has supported the mining code and said it also wants to negotiate its contracts with international mining companies. Gecamines said on Wednesday, the new code "remains in the standards of the global mining industry and does not endanger their profitability."

Gécamines said the loss of revenue since 2000 was due to sharply rising investment and operating costs for mining projects, which did not make them profitable. But some of these costs were in the form of financing costs, even though it was the shareholders themselves giving loans to companies, Gécamines said.

In June, Glencore agreed to write off $ 5.6bn of debt at its Katanga copper and cobalt project, following a lawsuit from Gecamines.

"The report abundantly explains how the system implemented by multinational companies of the sector aims at depriving Gécamines and the DRC of the benefits of its projects," Gécamines said. "By under-evaluating the results of the project companies in the DRC, while these multinationals are at the same time announcing record revenues on financial markets."

Mr Yuma denied the accusations that money had gone missing from the company's accounts over the past few years, saying its accounts were audited and data publicly disclosed according to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Last year, the Atlanta-based Carter Center said its $ 4.5 million paid to Gécamines from its assets sales and royalties between 2011 and 2014 was missing from its accounts.

Gécamines said that all that money could be traced in its accounts, "dollar by dollar."

Between 2009-2014 Gécamines paid $ 372m to the DRC state, Mr Yuma said, rather than $ 75m alleged by the Carter Center.

"Their [NGOs] only objective is the destabilization of the DRC to serve without hindrance, in the name of pseudo-democratic ideals, foreign demand for cobalt, coltan, copper, gallium, germanium and other strategic minerals, which the world needs so badly to ensure its energy transition, "Mr Yuma said.

Gécamines said it had invested $ 850m in its mining assets following its near bankruptcy in 2010, including buying back copper deposits such as Deziwa mine. The company will invest $ 101m in 2018, it said.


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