The Democratic Republic of Congo aims to boost its stake in a cobalt and copper joint venture with Chinese firms to 70% from 32%, on concerns the deal gives away too much of Congo’s resources with little benefit to the country.
The plan to boost Congo’s stake and have greater control in managing the Sicomines venture – currently dominated by the Chinese firms – was detailed in a document seen by Reuters, that outlined Congo’s demands ahead of talks to overhaul a $6 billion infrastructure-for-minerals agreement.
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, who is set to visit China, instructed his government on May 19 to move ahead with the talks after Congolese stakeholders “consolidated their position” on the 2008 deal.
The lopsided pact, Congo says, leaves it little means to control the operations of the venture, and the resources and revenue that are leaving the country.
He ordered the creation of an ad hoc commission in March to harmonise the negotiating positions of the Congolese institutions in charge of supervising the execution of the deal.
The commission included representatives of the presidency, the government, state auditor, the General Inspection of Finance (IGF), the Agency for Supervision, Coordination and Monitoring of Collaboration Agreements signed between the Democratic Republic of Congo and private partners, state miner Gecamines, and civil society.
Two members of the commission, who were not authorised to speak publicly, confirmed the authenticity of the document and the conclusions, which have not been reported before.
The sources said the conclusions would serve as the basis for Congo’s talks with the Chinese companies.
Congo’s government and the presidency did not respond to requests for comment.
The commission said Congo should seek a greater share in Sicomines because the 2008 agreement did not take account of an estimated $90.9 billion worth of reserves that Gecamines brought to the deal, according to the document seen by Reuters.
Learn more: Yahoo!News