Gecamines Questions Freeport’s Sale of Congo Copper Mine

Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-run miner Gecamines said it wasn’t informed about the sale of one the country’s biggest copper projects by Freeport McMoran Inc. and it plans to investigate the deal in order to “assert its rights.“

Advisers for Gecamines will “examine the announced terms of the transaction with regards to its rights under the agreements binding it directly or indirectly to Freeport McMoran,” the company said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. Phoenix-based Freeport announced a day earlier that it sold its indirect 56 percent stake in the Tenke Fungurume mine, which also produces cobalt, to China Molybdenum Co. for $2.65 billion.

Gecamines owns 20 percent of the mine, alongside investors Freeport and Canada’s Lundin Mining Corp. China Molybdenum will acquire Freeport’s ownership via a 70 percent interest in Bermuda-based TF Holdings Ltd. Lundin, which owns the other 30 percent of TF Holdings, has 90 days to match the offer for Freeport’s stake.

Gecamines has opposed similar transactions in the past. In 2012, it almost stopped the acquisition of Anvil Mining NL by China’s Minmetals Resources Ltd. The deal proceeded after they reached an agreement that included Anvil paying $55 million to Gecamines.

“Gecamines will assert its rights, as it has been doing so these past years when facing unilateral withdrawal decisions from its partners through attempts to indirectly transfer the control of joint venture companies to third-party entities,” it said on Tuesday.

(Adds ownership details in third paragraph.)

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