In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the conflict over the world’s largest copper and cobalt mines is intensifying, which could disrupt cobalt exports. The CEO of Congo’s state-owned copper and cobalt mining company says their partner, a Chinese metal producer, owes them about € 7.3 billion in arrears. According to the state mining company, “this is the biggest scam in the last 20 years.”
The relationship between Congolese state-owned mining company Jecamines and Chinese metal producer CMOC has reached its lowest level in history. The rationale for the controversy lies in the royalties paid by Chinese metal producer CMOC.
However, CMOC has denied that claim and has labeled it “injustice.” Jecamines, which owns a 20% stake in the Tenke Fungurume mine in southeastern Congo, has accused shareholders of controlling CMOC for underreporting mineral reserves. In addition, according to state mining companies, they are hiding data to avoid having to pay higher.
Earlier this year, the court ruled that the mine had to be operated by a temporary manager until both sides settled the dispute. However, CMOC continues to be in charge of the project and states that it is a “normal business.”
If the marriage goes wrong, there is always a divorce
Gécamines is now in good shape, threatening to completely end the partnership and regain rights. According to Jecamines, Chinese metal producers have royalties of around € 5 billion, and Jecamines also wants interest of around € 2.3 billion, said Deputy Chief Executive Officer Leon Muwein Kaviena. ..
“If the marriage goes wrong, there is always a divorce,” said Kaviena. “This was the biggest scam in the last 20 years and was enough for Jecamines.”
Intensifying conflicts are important because Congo is a very large global supplier of cobalt, an essential raw material for the manufacture of many batteries for electric vehicles. The Tenke Fungurume mine was one of the world’s largest producers of cobalt last year and is also a major copper supplier.
This controversy is also part of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi’s efforts to scrutinize the mining transactions negotiated under his predecessor Joseph Kabila.