KOLWEZI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo’s mines minister said on Wednesday that a new mining code signed into law in March cannot be called into question.
Addressing a mining conference in the copper and cobalt-mining city of Kolwezi, Martin Kabwelulu called on industry leaders to work to implement the code as it was signed into law by President Joseph Kabila.
Major mining companies including Glencore and Randgold bitterly opposed the code, which axes tax exemptions and hikes royalties and profit taxes. They have been holding out hope it might be watered down in further negotiations.
“It is not the place of any participating party, whether civil society, mining companies or even the government to try to call into question the text governing the mining sector,” Kabwelulu said.
The companies say the tax hikes and cancelling of 10-year exemptions for existing projects against changes to the previous fiscal and customs regimes breach previous agreements with the government.
Congo is Africa’s top copper producer and the world’s leading miner of cobalt, a mineral which has seen a surge in demand to manufacture electric car batteries.
Reporting by Aaron Ross and Amedee Mwarabu; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Tim Cocks and Matthew Mpoke Bigg