June 25, 2020 / 7:34 AM / 15 days ago

Civil society groups tell Congo to reject AJN Resources deal

JOHANNESBURG, June 25 (Reuters) - Civil society groups on Thursday called on the president and prime minister to deny Canada-listed junior miner AJN Resources approval for it to buy five projects from Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-owned gold company.

The deal awaits approval from the president and prime minister, cabinet meeting minutes showed last week, after the Congolese minister who oversees the country’s state-owned enterprises, gave it his accord.

Under the draft deal announced in early February, AJN Resources’ Congo unit would acquire stakes of between 30% and 35% in five gold projects from Société Minière de Kilo-Moto (SOKIMO) in exchange for a 60% stake in AJN.

AJN Resources has previously said the agreement would help SOKIMO gain access to international markets.

Five civil society groups under the banner “Le Congo n’est pas a vendre” (Congo is not for sale) said AJN is a junior company that lacks the financial clout and expertise necessary to revive SOKIMO.

The company’s June 1 financial statement showed it made a $2.1 million loss in the nine months to April 30.

AJN Resources CEO Klaus Eckhof did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The February draft deal also set out AJN’s purchase of SOKIMO’s 10% stake in the Kibali gold mine, which Barrick Gold operates. Barrick moved to block that purchase, causing AJN to scrap that part of the deal in early March.

AJN plans to acquire from SOKIMO its 30% stakes in Zani-Kodo, Nizi, and Kibali South, and 35% stakes in Giro Goldfields and Wanga (Tendao). (Reporting by Helen Reid and Hereward Holland; Editing by Barbara Lewis)

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