In August, Gecamines agreed to sell to Perth, Australia- based Tiger Resources Ltd. the 40 percent stake it didn’t already own in Congo’s Kipoi copper project for $111 million. Tiger is looking to eventually produce about 50,000 tons of copper per year in Congo. Gecamines retained 2.5 percent royalties on gross turnover as part of the deal.
Gecamines Chairman Albert Yuma said in September the company planned to invest $80 million to produce 51,000 tons of copper in the 15 months through the end of 2015. Yuma has clashed with Congo’s government over Gecamines’ management, including his decision to sell the company’s stakes in several joint ventures without an open tender process.
Yuma declined to comment when reached by phone on Dec. 16, referring questions to Tshimuanga.
The International Monetary Fund canceled its loan program with Congo in November 2012 after Gecamines refused to divulge all the details of its decision to relinquish its stake in ENRC’s Comidecopper project, highlighting concerns about management of the country’s mining industry.
“Improving transparency and governance in the natural resource sector remains a major challenge,” the IMF said in a report in October. The IMF report urged Congolese authorities to increase its monitoring of Gecamines and strengthen the accountability of its government board members.
Former Chief Executive Officer Ahmed Kalej Nkand was fired in July on allegations of corruption and “serious and multiple violations of governance,” according to the company’s second- quarter production report.
Nkand allegedly mortgaged several company buildings for his personal benefit and bought used mining equipment from an unknown South African company for an “exorbitant amount,” according to a statement by the company’s board of directors. Nkand didn’t answer two calls to his phone seeking comment.
While Congo has recorded “robust” economic growth, averaging an annual 7.4 percent from 2010 to 2013 because of its mining industry, more than 70 percent in a population of 69 million live in poverty, according to the World Bank.