Democratic Republic of Congo Says It May Still Revise Mine Code

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s mines ministry said that it could still revise the country’s mining code, in an apparent retreat from comments made by the department’s minister on Wednesday.

Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu, in an interview in Cape Town, said that the government had decided to maintain the country’s 2002 mining code due to the impact of low copper prices on the sector, abandoning a previous plan to revise the legislation.

On Thursday, his chief of staff, Valery Mukasa, said that the minister had only intended to reassure investors that the 2002 code is still in effect.

“We have not abandoned the plan to revise the code,” Mukasa said by phone from the capital, Kinshasa. “The new draft mining code is still with parliament and the ministry could be called to defend it in parliament at any time.”

Congolese lawmakers come back from a recess in March.

In his comments on Wednesday, Kabwelulu indicated the government wouldn’t push through the proposed changes in the wake of the commodity rout, though he didn’t explicitly say the draft code had been, or would be, withdrawn.

A draft of the revised laws approved by the government in March aimed to increase the state’s share of benefits from mining. The proposals included increasing profit taxes to 35 percent from 30 percent, the government’s free share of new mining projects to 10 percent from 5 percent and royalties on copper and cobalt to 3.5 percent from 2 percent.

The Chamber of Mines at the Federation des Entreprises du Congo, an industry lobby group, has opposed revisions to the code, saying the changes would prompt companies to scale back investments.

Miners including Baar, Switzerland-based Glencore Plc and Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport McMoRan Inc. extract copper from the central African nation, Africa’s top producer of the metal.

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