Randgold Resources CEO Mark Bristow. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Randgold Resources CEO Mark Bristow. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

AngloGold Ashanti and partner Randgold Resources say talks between the mining industry and Congolese President Joseph Kabila have reached agreement to address companies’ concerns about new mining laws.

AngloGold and London-listed Randgold share the new Kibali mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Randgold CEO Mark Bristow was outspoken during the Mining Indaba in February about the new mining code Kabila has yet to sign into law.

Other companies affected by the changes in mining laws in the DRC include Glencore, whose hard-nosed CEO Ivan Glasenberg joined fellow South Africans and equally tough Bristow in the talks with Kabila and mines ministry officials on Wednesday in Kinshasa.

DRC mines minister Martin Kabwelulu and Randgold said in statements with similar wording that the sector’s worries would be taken into account through "constructive dialogue with the government after the promulgation of the new mining law".

The president gave assurances that the questions raised would be resolved through discussions with the government, Randgold said. AngloGold issued a similarly worded statement, leaving the talks with the Congolese to Randgold, which manages the new Kibali underground gold mine.

The talks with the DRC government would start next week on a company-by-company basis, said a company source.

"There’s always hope," said the source, noting that the talks had taken place over about six hours and the problems the mining companies had with the new code were laid bare and discussed in detail.

A Reuters photograph of the CEOs clustered around Kabwelulu after the meeting showed the grim faces of CEOs.

Congo's Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu flanked by mining executives operating in Congo, March 7 2018. Picture: REUTERS/KENNY KATOMBE
Congo's Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu flanked by mining executives operating in Congo, March 7 2018. Picture: REUTERS/KENNY KATOMBE

The mining code has yet to be signed and gazetted, but this is expected imminently.

Bristow has said the option of seeking international arbitration was one that mining companies could turn to in the event their concerns were not addressed.

The DRC is the single-largest source of cobalt, the metal at the heart of battery technology and one that companies like Glencore are actively targeting.

The new code singles out cobalt royalties to increase to 10% from 2%, for example, with royalties on copper and other base metals set to increase too.

seccombea@bdfm.co.za