Mining companies have had a rough start to the year in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). President Joseph Kabila is about to sign a new mining code into law, which the industry is in something of a panic about. On the books since 2012, the revised mining code was finally wrapped up by parliament in late January. It is set to introduce major fiscal and regulatory reforms, including the repeal of a measure established by the 2002 law that exempted licence holders from complying with changes to the fiscal and customs regime for 10 years. This means companies such as Glencore and Randgold will have to pay higher royalties. The reforms come amid a boom in the price of cobalt, a key element in the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. In the past 12 months, cobalt prices have doubled as automobile companies have rushed to secure supply. The DRC has half of the world’s cobalt reserves. Naturally, mining companies are furious. After five years of on-off negotiations, the DR...

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