"DRC says mining review won’t leave a single contract untouched" (Source: Mining Weekly)

By: Matthew Hill
Published: 5 Feb 08 - 15:49

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would not leave one mining contract untouched after an industry wide review, a government official said on Tuesday.

“We’ve found that not a singe contract was properly constituted,” the country’s deputy Mines Minister, Victor Kasongo, told delegates at the Mining Indaba, in Cape Town.

"What was meant to be a minor corrective has turned out to be multiple, major surgery."

He said that government would now start negotiations with the companies to rectify contracts, and those that it could not reach agreement with would have 30 days to appeal.

"In many ways we would much prefer to be bringing many companies back to the negotiating table to reconstruct the contracts properly, rather than to be arguing the details of why they were classified the way they were," Kasongo stated.

What Kasongo said had caught the government off-guard, bringing about delays in the review proces, was the depth of irregularities it encountered.

"What caught us by surprise, when the commission started looking at the contracts in detail, was the scale of the problem that we had inherited," he stated.

"With the contract review, we have found complexities which we never expected, and we are having to work through them, line by line, and this has made our earlier timing predictions obsolete," added Kasongo.

The findings of the review were supposed to have been released in October 2007, after already having been delayed before.

Kasongo said that the the DRC government had come to a realisation that it had poor communication mechanisms with investors, and it was now working on this.

"The government realises, now more than ever, that we need to work hard at explaining what we are doing," he conceded. "Where we can, you will see that we have worked hard to correct blatant mistakes and misrepresentation."

"We have not done this well enough in the past, and the mining community has got used to learning about our position from rumours and from other companies," Kasongo noted.

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