In the two decades since billionaire mining investor Robert Friedland founded Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., his small team has made some of the biggest mineral discoveries in the world.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has done so while trading and contracting with companies controlled by one of President Joseph Kabila’s brothers, searches of thousands of pages of Congolese corporate records obtained by Bloomberg show.
Ivanhoe’s unearthing of Africa’s largest copper deposit in Congo last year after more than a decade of exploration work has helped quintuple the company’s stock price, making it the best performing share on the main Canadian index over the past 12 months. The discovery adds to other successes by Friedland, which include building the Oyu Tolgoi copper-and-gold mine in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert and discovering the Voisey’s Bay nickel deposit in Canada, which he sold in 1996 for more than $3 billion. He also plans a platinum mine in South Africa.
Over the past seven years, the Vancouver-based company has done business at least five times with two firms that are majority owned, via parent companies, by 38-year-old Zoe Kabila, a member of parliament. The companies are two of at least 12 Congolese businesses owned in part by Zoe.
They are part of a sprawling network of more than 70 enterprises controlled by the president and his relatives, first reported by Bloomberg last year. Laurent-Desire Kabila, their father and former Congolese president, had at least 25 children, according to a biography published in 2003.
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