Gecamines says Glencore deal to yield billions for Congo state

(Bloomberg) — A settlement between a Glencore Plc unit and Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-owned Gecamines will contribute billions of dollars of revenue to the government over the next decade, an official said.

Glencore reached a deal with Gecamines on Tuesday to end a legal dispute over Kamoto Copper Co., which is set to become Congo’s largest copper and cobalt mine. Gecamines had sought to shut down KCC after claiming Glencore failed to address a capital shortfall at the subsidiary.

“We think that by the end of this year the company will be able for the first time to pay profit tax and distribute dividends to its shareholders,” Gecamines President Albert Yuma said at a conference in Lubumbashi in southeastern Congo on Thursday. “In the decade to come, the profit taxes expected by the Congolese state should climb to $3.5 billion. And the expected dividends for Gecamines will exceed $2 billion.”

KCC’s total debt stood at $9.2 billion at the end of December, leading to a $4.2 billion shortfall in working capital that Glencore and Katanga were required by Congolese law to resolve. KCC is owned by Katanga Mining Ltd. and Gecamines, which hold 75 percent and 25 percent respectively. Glencore controls 86 percent of Katanga.


The debt levels mean the state-owned miner has never received dividends from the project and was unlikely to collect a share of profits even as Katanga ramped up production. Gecamines does not contribute to financing the company’s operations.

The agreement struck between the two companies involves a $5.6 billion debt-to-equity swap for Katanga Mining Ltd., effectively reducing KCC’s debt load . The deal also involves a one-time payment of $150 million to Gecamines and waiver of some mining rights, according to a statement released Tuesday.

“After discussions, our partners have accepted to recapitalize the company,” Yuma said. "Our partners have accepted to recapitalize the company.”

The Gecamines boss has repeatedly claimed joint ventures with foreign investors are too generous to companies such as Glencore, China Molybdenum Co. and MMG Ltd., saying existing arrangements provided a bad deal for the Treasury and the state miner.

“We wished to engage the re-evaluation of all our partnerships to create conditions of exploitation that are actually profitable for all: the foreign investors, Gecamines and the Congolese state,” Yuma said. “We have started with the most important among them,” he said, referring to KCC.

Gecamines will now initiate discussions with other partners, Yuma said, adding that companies “are seriously mistaken” if they think they can continue to operate unchanged joint ventures.

(By William Clowes)