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Congolese President Fires Gecamines CEO Over ‘Mismanagement’

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila fired the chief executive officer of Gecamines, the country’s state-owned of mining company, Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo said.

Ahmed Kalej Nkand was dismissed on July 26, Ponyo told reporters yesterday in the capital, Kinshasa, without saying who will be appointed as his successor. Kabila, who is dedicated to “good governance,” had needed to “punish those responsible for mismanagement,” Ponyo said. Kalej didn’t answer two calls to his mobile phone or respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

Kalej’s dismissal relates to the “illegal sale” of mining sites, Mines Ministry spokesman Peter Tshibangu Nsumba said by phone today. More specific reasons will become clear once an investigation has been conducted, he said. Gecamines public relations director Kazadi Kangombe referred questions to the Mines Ministry when contacted for comment.

Gecamines has partnered in several deals with billionaire Israeli investor Dan Gertler that anti-corruption groups including London-based Global Witness and Kofi Annan’s Africa Progress Panel have questioned for their lack of transparency and fairness. In 2011, Gecamines sold Gertler its shares in Glencore Xstrata Plc’s Mutanda and Kansuki mining projects for a price that was below market value, according to independent valuations of Mutanda at the time. Gertler says he paid fair value for the stakes.

Mismanagement, Conflict

The company produces barely an eighth of the copper it mined in 1986, when it was one of the world’s biggest miners of the metal, reflecting decades of mismanagement and conflict in the central African country.

Constrained by a lack of power supply, Gecamines produced 60,000 metric tons of copper in 2013 will increase this to about 100,000 tons this year, Kalej said in February. The company planned to raise about $2.8 billion to fund a 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant, three processing units and social spending, he said.

Gecamines workers went on strike as recently as June to protest over unpaid wages.

Congo is the world’s sixth-largest producer of copper and the largest producer of cobalt.

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