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Congo Starts Review of Mining Deals


The mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo has launched a commission to review mining deals, many of which are considered unfair to the state. As Franz Wild reports for VOA from Kinshasa, Congo is relying on increased mining revenue to implement an ambitious government program.

Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu said Congo's government commission plans to review all its mining contracts within three months and then negotiate with its partners to ensure it is not selling its ample resources short.

Many of the contracts were signed during a 1998 to 2003 civil war or during a transition period leading up to last year's historic elections, a time when rebel leaders were included in government. Kabwelulu said the deals were made without sufficient transparency and that despite an abundance of copper, gold, diamonds and tin reserves, Congo is drawing little benefit.

Peter Rosenblum, a law professor advising the commission on behalf of the Carter Center, thinks the job will take longer. But it is a historic step, he says.

"The focus on contracts in the mining sector has become more and more important, first of all because privatization has become so much more a feature of the natural resource sector and the possibilities of multiple contracts with different provisions floating around is much more significant than it ever has been," said Peter Rosenblum.

Congo's government says it needs to increase revenues from the mining sector if it is to implement an ambitious program to rebuild a shattered economy and infrastructure. Congo's first democratic government in four decades took office earlier this year.

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