The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has taken a significant step to rectify a long-standing mining deal with Chinese firms, aiming to address concerns of exploitation and foster a more equitable partnership.
The Congolese government revealed this week that the controversial mining deal, signed 16 years ago with China, has been amended through open negotiations, signaling a potential shift in relations between Kinshasa and Beijing.
Deputy Director of Cabinet André Wameso, Inspector-General of Finance Jules Alingete, Infrastructure Minister Alexis Gisaro, and Government Spokesman Patrick Muyaya jointly announced the amendments.
They highlighted that Chinese mining firms, which had previously paid $1.2 billion over 15 years, are now obligated to contribute nearly $6 billion over the next two decades.
Mr. Alingete, whose investigations in 2023 exposed an imbalance between the Congolese state and Chinese companies, emphasized the positive changes. He stated, “These companies have agreed to build a total of 7,000 kilometres of roads in the DRC, worth $7 billion,” with the project spanning 20 years.
In 2024 alone, Chinese companies will construct 650 kilometres of roads valued at $624 million, with an annual $324 million allocated for road construction.
Despite the renegotiation, Chinese firms will continue to benefit from a tax exemption of approximately $100 million. In return, the DRC expects to receive $240 million in royalties annually on the turnover of Sicomines, a company managing dividends from the mining project.
The renegotiated contract grants the Congolese side a larger stake in Sicomines, reversing the initial majority held by the Chinese.
The battle to rebalance the contract began in 2021 when President Tshisekedi called for an examination of its execution by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the Inspectorate-General of Finances.
Criticized for its imbalance favoring Chinese companies, the initial 2008 contract, valued at $9 billion, was reduced to $6.5 billion after pressure from the International Monetary Fund.
The revised deal marks a significant stride toward fairer partnerships in the mining sector, showcasing the DRC’s commitment to rectifying historical imbalances and fostering mutually beneficial collaborations with Chinese firms.