The Democratic Republic of Congo has reportedly formed a commission to re-evaluate the reserves and resources at the Tenke Fungurume copper and cobalt mine.
The new commission would validate the compliance of China Molybdenum with its contractual obligations regarding the project.
China Molybdenum owns a majority stake in the Tenke Fungurume mine, which is said to be one of the highest-grade copper and cobalt mines in the world.
Congo state mining company Gecamines holds a 20% stake in the mine, which covers a 1,500km² area.
The Congolese Cabinet was cited by Reuters as saying that the commission would focus on determining the value of the copper and cobalt reserves at the mine to ensure Gecamines and, to ‘fairly lay claim to their rights’ through extension.
Citing documents, Bloomberg News reported that the investigation into China Molybdenum’s mineral reserve data, as well as its project financing costs, was recently authorised by the office of President Felix Tshisekedi.
Earlier this month, China Molybdenum announced plans to invest $2.5bn to almost double production at the Tenke Fungurume mine as prices of copper and cobalt are on the rise due to an increase in demand.
Slated to be complete in 2023, the project will respectively increase copper and cobalt output at the mine by 200,000t and 17,000t.
Tshisekedi deputy chief of staff for economic and financial matters Andre Wameso told Bloomberg News by phone: “If we find nothing, the contract will stay as it was established with its initial inequalities. But if it’s changed disfavouring the DRC, we’re ready to go in another direction.
“The mine has a lot more reserves than what was in the original contract, so it’s quite logical that we should review what equitably belongs to each according to the contributions of each.
“If the conditions have changed in terms of something that wasn’t there at the initial time, we must review the agreement on the basis of reality.”
In 2019, the Tenke Fungurume mine produced 177,956t of copper and 16,098t of cobalt while the output of the two metals respectively changed to 182,600t and 15,400t last year.