NGO’s Warn DRC to Keep Mining Contract Negotiations Transparent

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RAPAPORT… Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) warned the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) government that foreign mining houses would turn to international courts if their contract renegotiations with the state were not handled in a fair and transparent manner.

While a report explaining the process of re-negotiations was published this past week, “several months” after it had been completed, the NGO’s said they were concerned for the lack of clarity for the next stage of actual negotiations.

“The government should publicly outline the process it intends to follow, including the criteria used in the renegotiations, and publish the revised contracts,” a statement signed by around 15 NGO’s read. “It is in the interest of all parties to resolve the long-standing disputes about the fairness of the contracts.”

“Some companies may resort to international litigation to uphold their original agreements, if an orderly process is not followed,” they added.

In April 2007, the DRC government decided to re-negotiate some 60 contracts with western and Chinese mining companies operating in the west African state, with the aim of filtering more revenue from its vast mineral wealth to help alleviate poverty.

The published report categorized the contracts into those that would continue as they were, those that were flawed and needed renegotiation, and those that would be revoked.

Around 16 companies are said to have received invitations to start discussions with the government about their operations in the DRC.

The government also announced last week the establishment of a task force to oversee the next stage of the process, which the NGO’s also criticized.

“The composition of this task force, which includes only government officials, does not provide any guarantee of impartiality or independence,” the NGOs said. “In view of decades of mismanagement of natural resources in the DRC, it is essential that the task force include independent, international legal experts and members of civil society.”

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