KINSHASA, March 23 (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo’s mines minister rejected a proposal by mining companies on Friday to soften some provisions in a new mining code in exchange for higher royalties.
Mining companies had said earlier on Friday that they were willing to pay the government more to produce cobalt, gold, copper and other minerals if the government agreed to respect 10-year exemptions to changes to fiscal and customs regimes for existing projects, and cancel certain taxes.
It was miners’ latest attempt to curb the impact of a strict new code that includes a 50 percent windfall profits tax on mining companies and was signed into law by President Joseph Kabila this month in the face of fierce industry opposition.
“We cannot change anything in the mining code,” Martin Kabwelulu said at the start of talks between the government and the industry over how to implement the law. “The taxation as laid out in the mining code is untouchable. It stays,” he said.
Randgold executive Willem Jacobs, speaking on behalf of mining companies operating in Congo, had pushed for the government to respect the 10-year exemptions and scrap the windfall profit tax, which applies if commodity prices rise above certain levels.