The Mining World Watches as Congo Counts Votes for Next Leader – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – January 4, 2019)

The Democratic Republic of Congo is in uncharted waters as the nation awaits election results marking the end of President Joseph Kabila’s rule. One thing is certain: the mining world is watching closely.

Congo, which held presidential polls on Dec. 30, is one of the world’s most important but difficult mining jurisdictions. Companies including Glencore Plc, Barrick Gold Corp. and China Molybdenum Co. have major operations in the country and Congo is the biggest producer of cobalt, a key material for batteries, as well as an important source of minerals from tungsten to tin.

One of the industry’s biggest concerns in the past year has been a new mining code introduced by Kabila’s government that raised royalties, added taxes and canceled a clause that would have protected them against fiscal changes for 10 years. There has been vocal opposition from the mining industry, but so far no concessions.

The presidential contest is a three-way race between Kabila’s protege, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, and the two main opposition candidates — Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi. While Shadary is expected to stick with the new mining code, the issue has not been a prominent campaign theme, so investors largely remain in the dark on the possible impact.

On the campaign trail, Shadary’s team criticized the opposition by claiming they would reverse the mining code, while Fayulu and Tshisekedi’s camps have indicated in interviews they’d at least re-engage with the mining companies and listen to their concerns.

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