Congo state miner and China’s CMOC reach agreement on royalties

(Reuters) – An agreement on royalties between Congo’s state miner and China’s CMOC has been reached, paving the way for the resumption of minerals exports from the world’s second largest cobalt mine, Congo’s finance minister said late on Monday.

Copper and cobalt exports from Tenke Fungurume Mining (TFM) were suspended in July after an escalation in a dispute between its shareholders Gecamines and CMOC.

A temporary administrator appointed by a Congolese court ordered majority owner CMOC to suspend marketing and export of its production.

“CMOC – Gecamines, an agreement has been reached. I have some elements of this agreement but I prefer to let the entities themselves confirm and this will be done in the next few days,” Nicolas Kazadi said in response to a question from Reuters.

China’s CMOC Group announced in a statement on Wednesday that a “consensus” had been reached on April 18 on the issue of TFM royalties. It referred to a “win-win”, without giving further details on this agreement.

Congo authorities declined to comment on the details of the agreement.

An adviser to Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi, who requested anonymity as he was not officially authorised to speak on the subject, told Reuters that the negotiations should bring “around $2 to 3 billion” to the country.

He added that Tshisekedi is expected to travel to China in the coming weeks “to seal the renewal of Chinese contracts”.

Last year, a senior Gecamines official said the revenue loss for Congo due to the previous terms of the contracts was estimated at “more than $7 billion” since the start of the mining project. CMOC denied it and threatened the country with legal actions.

(Reporting by Sonia Rolley, Benoît Nyemba; Additional reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by Anait Miridzhanian and Chizu Nomiyama)