Congo Completes Mining Review, Says Majors Quit Talks

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"Review process is extended an additional 45 days to allow six companies to return to the negotiating table for direct talks with government ministers."

Democratic Republic of Congo has completed a much-delayed review of 61 mining contracts, but majors including Freeport-McMoRan have walked away from renegotiation talks, the Deputy Mines Minister said on Saturday.

"The review is over for everyone but six companies, those that walked away from talks," Victor Kasongo told Reuters. First Quantum, Banro Corporation (AMEX: BAA; TSX: BAA), AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields Limited (JSE/NYSE: GFI) and Mwana Africa were the other companies to quit talks, he said. But AngloGold Ashanti, which is exploring for gold at Mongbwalu, said it had not quit discussions.

The mineral-rich central African nation began the review process early last year, aiming to overhaul 61 deals most of which were agreed during the chaos of a 1998-2003 war. The review was initially due to be completed within six months, but contract renegotiations between state miners and their private partners have dragged on. Kasongo said the process would now be extended an additional 45 days to allow the six companies to return to the negotiating table for direct talks with government ministers.

Banro Corporation is developing four gold properties along the Twangiza-Namoya belt, First Quantum owns the Kolwezi cobalt and Lonshi copper projects, Gold Fields is exploring at the Kisenge project, and Mwana Africa owns stakes in gold, diamond and copper projects.

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