June 7, 2018 / 12:41 PM / 2 months ago

Congo mining regulations to be signed into law on Friday - mines minister

DAKAR (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo’s prime minister will sign into law on Friday regulations to immediately implement a new mining code without any concessions to industry demands that key provisions be amended, the mines minister said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Congo's Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu, flanked by mining executives operating in Congo, addresses a news conference after a meeting with President Joseph Kabila (not in the picture) in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe

The move could set off a legal battle between the government and major mining companies operating in Congo, including Glencore (GLEN.L) and Randgold (RRS.L), which threatened legal action against the government last week if their concerns about tax hikes and the elimination of exemptions were not addressed.

“The code will be applied as it was promulgated!” Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu told Reuters in a text message.

A spokeswoman for Randgold, who has been handling media queries on behalf of seven of the largest foreign companies operating in Congo, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kabwelulu said the regulations would first be adopted at a cabinet meeting on Friday and then signed by Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala in the evening, adding that “the application of the code will be immediate!”

The new code scraps 10-year protections for existing projects against changes to the fiscal regime, imposes a windfall profits tax and increases royalties. Congo is Africa’s top copper producer and the world’s leading miner of cobalt.

Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Adrian Croft

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