Ivan Glasenberg. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Ivan Glasenberg. Picture: BLOOMBERG

London — Glencore, the commodities trader and miner headed by billionaire Ivan Glasenberg, is considering increasing its stake in the Mutanda copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Swiss firm, which already owns 69% of the mine, will make a further announcement if appropriate, it said in a statement on Thursday.

Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler’s Fleurette Group owns the rest of Mutanda. A spokesman for Fleurette Group declined to comment.

Glencore last year completed a debt reduction programme, cutting borrowings by about $10bn through a combination of asset sales, reduced spending and the suspension of its dividend. Last month, emerging from the self-imposed era of austerity, it agreed a surprise $11bn deal with Rosneft PJSC, of which its commitment was €300m, giving it a stake in the Russian oil producer and a new off-take accord.

The $1.8bn Mutanda project is central to Glencore’s global copper expansion plan. Glencore and Gertler began investing in mines at Mutanda and neighbouring Katanga almost a decade ago. In 2015, Mutanda produced more than any other copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s biggest miner of the metal.

In September, Glencore said it was reviewing allegations by US authorities regarding the bribery of officials in the African country, said to implicate Gertler. Some of the Israeli businessman’s projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo were funded by Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC, which in September agreed to pay more than $400m to settle a US probe into allegations of bribery violations in Africa.

Och-Ziff Agreement

Och-Ziff’s partner in the Africa country paid $100m in bribes to government officials over a 10-year period to win access to mining assets, according to an agreement between Och-Ziff and the US justice department. That partner was Gertler, a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified, said last year.

Gertler has consistently denied paying bribes. He has not been charged with an offence and was not mentioned by name in either the settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission or those with the justice department.

None of the allegations pertain to the Mutanda mine.

Glencore’s African copper assets recorded revenue of $3bn in 2015, according to its annual report.

Bloomberg

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