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Even If the DRC is Able To Re-Negotiate Its Mining Contracts With The Chinese and Others, It’s Still Not Going to Help Ordinary People, Says Expert

A man watches a conveyor belt loaded with chunks of Raw cobalt after a first transformation at a plant in Lubumbashi. SAMIR TOUNSI / AFP

A leading Congolese mining expert wants to dispel the notion that President Félix Tshisekedi’s efforts to renegotiate foreign mining contracts is going to benefit ordinary people. “It is, of course, a first step,” acknowledged Jean Pierre Okenda, a well-known expert in DRC mining issues and head of the extractive resources department at the Brussels-based NGO Resource Matters in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, “but those contracts generate money for state companies and don’t contribute directly to the national budget.”

The problem dates back to the early 2000s when the state-run mining company Gécamines was on the verge of bankruptcy and signed a number of joint venture deals, including a massive one with a consortium of Chinese firms. “[These deals] are totally unbalanced in the sharing of mining revenues. This partnership led to a huge loss of $2 billion for DRC,” said Albert Yuma, chair of the board of Gécamines.

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