MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Canadian Companies

Published by MAC on 2001-10-15

Canadian Companies

Also benefiting from the war are ten Canadian mining companies with
investments in the Congo. These are: Barrick Gold, American Mineral Fields (AMF), Tenke Mining, Banro Resource, Consolidated Trillion, First Quantum Minerals, International Panorama Resource, Melkior Resources, Samax Gold and Starpoint Goldfields. These companies have been awarded valuable concessions in mining copper, cobalt, gold, platinum and zinc deposits. Even before Laurent Kabila came to power he had signed deals with AMF and Tenke Mining. In March 1997, Jean Raymond Boulle, founder of AMF, signed a $1 billion agreement with Kabila's rebel army to develop a zinc mine at Kipushi, and a cobalt venture in Kolwezi; Boulle also received approval to sell diamonds in Shaba province. As part of these arrangements, Boulle lent Kabila a leased jet.

In early 1997, Kabila sent a representative to Toronto to speak to
mining companies about "investment opportunites." According to Dale Grant, editor of "Defence Policy Review," this trip "may have raised as much as $50 million to support Kabila's march on the capital of Kinshasa." On May 12, 1997, Tenke Mining announced that it had signed a deal with Kabila confirming the terms of a contract the company had previously signed with Mobutu's government in November 1996. At this point, Kabila had not yet taken power. The urgent need to finance the war has compelled the Congo government to reach quick agreements with mining companies over exploration rights. The companies can thus gain resources for less than they would in peace conditions.

According to the "Christian Science Monitor," Laurent Kabila
"adopted a circle of Canadian advisers." Part of this "Congo inner circle" was Joe Clark, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and former Canadian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. In the mid 1990s, Clark became First Quantum Mineral's special adviser on Africa. He stated: "The government of Congo knows that if it's going to make progress quickly in terms of using assets that create jobs, mining is more likely to do it than other sectors."

Barrick Gold and Banro hold mining properties in eastern Congo under Rwandan/Ugandan control. Banro has 47 mining concessions in Sud Kivu and Maniema provinces while Barrick got exploration and exploitation rights to "a huge tract of land" (82,000 sq. km) in Orientale province. As reported in "Le Monde Diplomatique," Barrick and Banro have been accused of "funding military operations in exchange for lucrative contracts." Banro is also included in the U.N. list of companies involved in the illegal exploitation of the eastern Congo (see above). The company is importing cassiterites (tin ores) from the rebel area into Canada.

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