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Congo Mines Ministry Says Revised Mining Code Ready Year-End

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo expects to pass a revised mining code before the end of the year, Valery Mukasa, Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu’s chief of staff, said.

The ministry will present proposed changes to the government this month, Mukasa said today in an interview in the capital, Kinshasa. None of the amendments will require renegotiation of old contracts, he said. He declined to give further details.

“If we do renegotiation after renegotiation and revision after revision, our business climate will keep being criticized,” he told reporters in the capital. “At some point it has to stop.”

Congo in 2010 announced the end of a three-year process of revisiting all mining contracts. The renegotiations resulted in the cancellation of several contracts including First Quantum Mineral Ltd.’s Kolwezi project and were criticized by organizations including the Carter Center and Global Witness for a lack of transparency.

The World Bank ranked Congo the 178th most difficult place in the world to do business out of 183 countries surveyed last year. The International Monetary Fund is delaying disbursement of about $160 million in loans to Congo, citing a series of secretive asset sales last year by state-controlled mining companies and asking for improved governance in the mining industry.

Under a joint program launched today by the World Bank, the Mines Ministry and the U.K.’s Department for International Development, or DFID, $90 million will be spent to improve management of Congo’s mining industry.

“To realize its potential, Congo needs to attract more investment from companies with a global reach,” Christopher Pycroft, the head of DFID in Congo, told reporters today in Kinshasa. “At the moment the business climate is not attractive for these companies.”

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