DR Congo 'welcomes' Chinese mining firms, official says after reported scrutiny on deals
Published: Aug 29, 2021 11:38 AM
Fishermen paddle along the Ruki River, near the village of Bantoyi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, April 9, 2019. Photo: VCG

Fishermen paddle along the Ruki River, near the village of Bantoyi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, April 9, 2019. Photo: VCG

China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will strengthen bilateral cooperation in the mining sector, officials from both countries stressed after some media reports suggested that the DRC was scrutinizing some contracts with Chinese firms.

Zhu Jing, Chinese Ambassador to the DRC, met with Antoinette N'Samba Kalambayi, the DRC's minister of mines on Friday, and exchanged views on bilateral cooperation in the mining sector, according to the website of the Chinese Embassy in the DRC. 

Officials from both sides emphasized that enhancing bilateral cooperation in the mining industry is mutually beneficial. 

Zhu said that China is willing to work with the DRC to explore more business models, and to enhance and upgrade cooperation, while Kalambayi noted that the DRC government welcomes Chinese mining enterprises to invest in the country and will continue to improve the business environment and protect the legitimate rights and interests of investors.

Reuters reported on Friday that the DRC government was reviewing a $6 billion "infrastructure-for-minerals" deal with Chinese investors as part of a broader examination of mining contracts, citing Finance Minister Nicolas Kazadi. 

According to the Reuters report, the DRC government has been reviewing and reassessing some contracts with Chinese investors, including the reserves and resources at the Tenke Fungurume copper and cobalt mine of China Molybdenum Co, and the 2007 deal agreed with Chinese firms Sinohydro Corp and China Railway Group, to ensure these contracts are "fair and effective."

"The increased scrutiny of Chinese investors in the DRC, and possibly in some other African countries, is due to pressure from the West, especially the US," Song Wei, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Song noted that China's cooperation with African countries including the DRC is unshakable and infrastructure development in Africa is crucial for poverty reduction and economic recovery after the epidemic.

"The 'infrastructure minerals exchange' deal is a way to ensure that China can feasibly support Africa's infrastructure development without increasing the debt burden that Africa already faces," said Song.  

Official data showed that bilateral trade reached $6.49 billion in the first half of 2021, an increase of 108.9 percent on a yearly basis, while China's industry-wide direct investment in the DRC amounted to $176 million. The DRC became the top destination for Chinese investment in Africa.

Global Times