DRC: Tshisekedi seems to be repairing relations with mining giants

By Eric Olander
Posted on Friday, 18 February 2022 08:04

Democratic Republic of Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi delivers his message during a session on Action on Forests and Land Use, during the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (Paul Ellis/Pool Photo via AP)/

There’s new evidence that the once combative relationship between DRC President Félix Tshisekedi and the large Chinese cobalt mining companies that operate in his country is getting back on track.

On 13 February, the President spoke by phone with the head of Chinese mining major China Molybdenum (CMOC), Sun Ruiwen, and Li Changdong, a senior representative of the Chinese electric vehicle battery manufacturer CATL.

No details of the discussion other than a sober Tweet from the President’s office were provided. But these high-level dialogues further indicate that both sides are seemingly eager to put last year’s contentious contract review dispute behind them.

Sun’s CMOC operates the massive Tenke Fungurume cobalt and copper mine that is poised to undergo a sizable expansion thanks to a $2.5bn investment. 

Even though President Tshisekedi tasked his cabinet to review the terms of the TFM deal, CAP’s Francophone Africa Editor and veteran Congolese mining analyst C. Geraud Neema says these meetings with Sun hints that the President wants to manage the CMOC relationship himself rather than assign it to a minister.

The presence of CATL at the meeting was also notable and may be part of the President’s ambition to slow the export of raw cobalt and process more of the blue metal locally.

This article was published in partnership with The China Africa Project. 

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