Congo mining code passes Senate without opposition (Reuters U.S. – January 24, 2018)

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo’s new proposed mining code, which the industry has warned will stifle investment in the copper and cobalt-rich nation, sailed through the Senate without opposition late on Wednesday.

A version passed by the National Assembly – Congo’s lower house of parliament – last month would increase taxes and royalties, including potentially more than doubling royalties on cobalt, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries.

Nearly two-thirds of the world’s cobalt comes from Congo. Demand for the metal has surged due to expected growth in the electric vehicle sector, causing the price on the London Metal Exchange to triple over the last two years.

The process of revising Congo’s 2002 mining code has dragged on for over five years. The mines minister suspended consideration of the bill in 2016 after miners complained that its fiscal terms would make their projects unprofitable.

The government reintroduced it last May however, saying it was essential to boosting revenues in a country with an annual budget of only around $5 billion, which has suffered in recent years due to commodities price fluctuations.

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