25 Copper, Diamond, Gold Deals in the Congo Could Be Canceled

Source:

"Contracts involving "second tier" assets could be scrapped if no feasibility study results by December"

Some 25 mining contracts in Congo involving "second tier" copper, diamond, and gold assets could be scrapped if companies fail to present the results of feasibility studies by a December deadline, the Ministry of Mines said on Thursday.

"We will see if the studies were done. They will be able to present their reasons, and the cabinet will decide whether to extend (the deadline) or withdraw the permits. The goal is to have these assets in capable hands," Deputy Mines Minister Victor Kasongo told Reuters.

Congo completed a review of 61 mining contracts in August as part of an effort to boost state revenues from agreements signed mostly during the chaos and corruption of a 1998-2003 war and the transitional government that followed.

However, many companies that saw their partnerships approved by the review panel have yet to present required feasibility study results, Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu told an investor conference in Kinshasa on Wednesday.

"Certain partners started work without finalizing their feasibility studies," he said.

"Eleven companies were either in production or gave feasibility studies. The rest gave nothing. So far we've still received nothing, and we've asked," Kasongo said Thursday.

But despite lingering doubts over the fate of the country's largest foreign-owned projects, analysts had expected completion of the review to boost investor confidence in Congo's high-risk but potentially lucrative mining sector.

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