Summit Communications: Could you share
with us the path which led you to the post
of Managing Director of GECAMINES?
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: On 11th September 2002,
I became the Managing Director of GECAMINES.
I am a civil mining engineer, a holder of
a master of sciences and two specialized
diplomas in mining. I got one in Belgium
and the other one from the University of
Lumumbashi. This enabled me to be in contact
with the mining industry in general and
GECAMINES in particular. When I was a student,
I had training courses with GECAMINES before
I started working with the University. Later
on, I applied for a post with GECAMINES
and I was recruited for a period of two
years. Normally after that period, I could
have continued my studies abroad but I remained
with GECAMINES. The company accepted to
finance my post-university studies. Like
many other people, I was recruited as engineer
undergoing training. I started my career
from the lowest level of supervisor before
being foreman, then engineer. Then I was
posted to the production department after
a training and got promotion to the post
of divisional in charge of production, headquarter
director of one of our three mining groups
of Kolwezi before I was appointed Managing
Director in Lumumbashi, the capital of the
province of Katanga.
Summit Communications: People usually
refer to Congo as a geological scandal.
Could you present to us the cartography
of GECAMINES here in Congo?
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: It is true that Congo
is a mining scandal. Our ancestors who lived
in this very region were already working
copper before the arrival of the colonists.
Before the Berlin conference of 1885, people
were already talking about the geological
scandal and the international community
was already lusting after that region.
Then, the resources of Congo caused much
ink to flow and the matter was tabled during
the negotiations preceding the independence.
Towards the end of the Second Republic,
after the departure of Mobutu, the natural
resources of Congo such as copper, diamond,
coltan, gold and heterogenite were the subject
of many desires and anarchical exploitation
by boarder countries which were involved
in the war for political reasons as well
as for economic reasons. But despite all
those years of crisis, the resources and
the potential are still present. A well
managed and planned exploitation will enable
to contribute to the sustainable development
of our country and to the poverty reduction.
When you look at the mineral map of Congo
in general and the map of the southern part
of Katanga in particular you can see that
the reserves in copper and colbat are impressive
in quantity: we estimate that it is possible
to continue the exploitation of copper during
the next 50 years with certitude and probably
in the next 75 years, indeed 100 years.
In fact, so far, we have concentrated our
efforts on the exploitation of superficial
deposits, but the subsoil remains unexploited
and the potential remains intact, for lack
of survey and exploitation campaign. Thus,
for the moment, what we have at our disposal
are only superficial indications carried
out by foreign companies in the past.
Summit Communications: Some years ago,
the activities of GECAMINES were flourishing
both at the national and international level.
Today, what are the main activities of GECAMINES,
and in which sectors are they concentrated?
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: We have two concessions
of the GECAMINES: the concession of copper
and the concession of tin. The concession
of copper is situated between Kipushi and
Kolwezi (300 km) where there are other metals
such as gold and germanium. In the North,
we have the concession of tin that represents
about 32.000 km² against 19.000 km²
for the concession of copper. We should
note that these figures date from the time
before the dislocation in partnership. If
you put together the reserves known for
sure on the one hand, and the probable reserves
on the other hand, the global estimations
in copper metal contained in the concessions
are estimated at (figures to be confirmed)
4 millions of cobalt. This estimation can
even be multiplied by 2 if we undertake
to reinforce our technical means for exploitation.
That remains our weak point for the moment.
Parallel to this, we estimate the reserves
of zinc at 6.5 millions, those of germanium
at more than 3 millions tons without counting
the deposits of polyhetal.
Summit Communications: In terms of world
production, what is the part that the production
and the reserves of Congo represent now
on the whole international market?
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: GECAMINES has reached
a level of annual production during the
second republic of about 478.000 tons of
copper and 17.000 tons of cobalt. At that
period, GECAMINES was the 5th world producer
of copper and the first producer after us
had nearly 5.000 tons of cobalt in the 1980s.
Summit Communications: The production
policy is a very important policy when we
know the ups and downs of the company. As
people know the importance of the mining
sector in the economic boosting and the
monetary stability of the country, what
is the management policy of GECAMINES in
such a context?
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: GECAMINES for a long
time remained the mining leader in our country.
On this account, we can emphasize that at
the time of late President Mobutu, GECAMINES
produced more than during the time of Union
Minière du Haut Katanga. We must
recognize that eventually, that production
was not rationally used to develop the mining
industry: we know the events of the second
republic, the management problems of state
companies, and the lack of perceptiveness
of the authorities of that time.
In the 80s, GECAMINES had put in place a
programme to increase its production from
600 to 800.000 tons per year in order to
produce 1 million tons in the region. Unfortunately,
it was at the moment that we started having
problems of management that increased in
1991 when an embargo was put on the country.
After that year, the figures that were already
falling well before 1991 did not permit
to gather foreign capitals necessary for
In fact, in the past, it was possible to
borrow between 400 and 500.000 dollars a
year, due to our turnover around 1.2 and
1.3 billion dollars per year in average.
At that time, we had the potential to borrow
a financial resource that disappeared with
time, the political events, the end of the
international community's support etc
An embargo was put on the country, all the
expansion projects were cut, they had put
and end to all the projects. Let's take
for example, the case of Kolwezi a big project
such as the one of P2, a refining project
that had already had problems during the
first war of Shaba in 1968. GECAMINES swallowed
a sum of 140 million dollars without producing
anything. Similarly, in Kove III, GECAMINES
invested 135 million dollars that served
to achieve part of the work, then, for lack
of means, the technicians who were left
there. Today, those projects are "white
elephants". Unfortunately there exist
other similar projects in which money has
been spent in a thoughtless manner. At the
time being, financiers continues to put
pressure on GECAMINES to pay back all those
but we asked the government
to accept to pay some of the debts because
we are a state company and that the main
reason of our decline is linked with the
badly structured politico-economic context
of the 2nd republic (cf embargo) where there
exist problems at all the levels: at the
level of the country, of political authorities
and even here within GECAMINES.
Summit Communications: Since 2002 you
have many restructurations coupled with
a new dimension and redynamisation that
permit you to have rather more positive
prospect than some years ago even though
the distance to cover remains very long.
You still have a sick company and at the
same time a company with an enormous potential.
Today, what are the different orientations
that you have put in place in order to bring
GECAMINES onto an even keel?
Mr. NZENGA: An embargo was put on the country
from 1995. From that time, GECAMINES took
the option to turn to the private sector
since the Congolese state was no longer
able to give the necessary guarantees for
loans. GECAMINES was confronted with serious
crisis during which it became very difficult
to have financing, the country being considered
as high risk country.
In order to bypass the problem, we turned
to private individuals. We have started
a project with private mining operators,
firstly with the G. FORREST company on the
Kasombo project. Then other projects such
as GTE came on, with the participation of
an NGO (55%), FORREST GROUP (25%) and GECAMINES
(20%). These projects work and are profitable.
Then we have continued with other projects
such as TENKE FUNGURUME. It is a very big
deposit situated at 60 Kms from Likasi.
This year, if the project had started according
to the schedule, we would have been in the
10th year of exploitation with in theory
for the 11th year, a production capacity
of 400.000 tons of metal copper, exactly
what GECAMINES was producing. It is a crucial
project for the sector, which, following
the political situation was stopped for
case of absolute necessity, but the current
negotiations should permit to launch the
Another important partnership is the one
of BHP and First Deutsch but he people of
BHP have left, the ones of first Deutsch
are still there. They have practically raised
the option of entering into the partnership
through WINDING, our partner.
Another project is KMT (Kingamyambo Musonoi
Tailings SRL), processing the tailings from
our old metallurgic factories in the Kolwezi
concentrator accumulated over the years.
We are negotiating with the group American
Mineral Field that has today become ADASTRA
in order to develop those tailings. It is
a project of about 330 millions dollars.
We are presently at the phase of feasibility
study. If the schedule is respected, the
project is expected to start producing as
from 2007, and a modern factory is expected
to process the tailings.
There are other projects in progress with
FORREST on Kamoto site and other projects
again with the group GEC that bring together
two companies namely DGI and BHD BATMAN.
They are Jewish companies and they weight
about 250 or 300 million dollars.
Parallel to this and regrettably, war has
driven back the investors who have been
replaced by small contractors who are for
many of them apprentices and amateurs of
the mining sector. But welcoming these investors
was a condition of survival, an embargo
being put on the country and because it
had to defend itself, it was essential to
keep the activity well and to prepare the
relaunching of the mining activity.
In fact, the sector is the engine for development
and despite the difficult years, we must
emphasize that we still have mineral resources
because in the other case, it would be a
The geological scandal described before
1885, exposed at the time of independence,
used as a political weapon when President
Mobutu was chased from power and that people
continue to talk about at the time of transition
- the geological scandal - is still permanent.
The reserves are there and when you cut
across the country you notice that it is
practically virgin and intact. The country
is still to be discovered.
Summit Communications: In order to enable
the investors to carry out prospection and
production work, the government has adopted
a mining code in 2002 what are its main
assets and how do you perceive it?
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: We needed a regulation.
The practices in the sector during the second
republic before the publication of that
mining code were deplorable for the country.
People wanted to make of each project a
prototype. Each project was negotiated in
Kinshasa. They had to negotiate the customs
regime and the fiscal regime individually.
Most projects were exempted from taxes and
it was a motivation for the investor to
come but parallel to this, there were major
disturbances at the macroeconomic level.
This did not enable the start of many projects
although they benefited from many advantages.
With the implementation of the mining code,
the investors had had the choice to remain
under the regime of mining convention prior
to the mining code or to submit to the new
code in its entirety.
On the other hand, all the other new projects
made public after the publication of the
new mining code should automatically be
submitted to the regime of the new mining
As far as I am concerned, I think that the
new mining code is a good document which
benefited from the contribution of international
financial institution and multinationals.
That code must be implemented in a systematic
and unique manner that is, it must be the
same for everyone without any distinction
as we know that mining activities must generate
incomes for the state, this in order to
enable private companies to pay their taxes
and the state to stop tapping public companies
that have problems. The state must live
with its incomes and the assets that belong
to the state in the spirit of the mining
code and according to the technico- economic
model, between 35 and 45 % of the state's
income should come from taxes and dues.
Thus, after the launching of a new project,
the custom regime and the fiscal regime
as defined in the new mining code should
enable the state to have incomes - to the
difference of the old regime that granted
exemption over more than 10 years. The code
also enables the state to play its role
of regulator. This implies that the state
has a certain organisation to live on taxes
as everywhere the world over. The state
must organize to collect its dues instead
of leaving those dues to other people.
Summit Communications: Among all these
new projects, which one belongs to GECAMINES,
what is the role of the company in partnerships?
What is the mode of functioning adapted?
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: GECAMINES does not
bring what it could bring, that is the deposits.
Talking about partners, the obligations
concern feasibility studies, to present
them to the company, to organize the financing
in order to launch the project. That is
why GECAMINES goes to the private sector.
It is the only way to finance its project.
In fact, they easily lend money to private
individuals than to a state company.
Concerning the capital invested by the state,
it boils down to deposits. The commercial
terms that are negotiated during partnerships
are not part of the new mining code. They
enter into the commercial law and do not
belong to the mining code. The state takes
5% for the new projects. This is the case
with the Adastra Project of KMT for the
reprocessing of tailings. It is a project
that we have finalized in the new mining
titles concerning the stocks of tailings.
In the other projects such as TENKE FUNGURUME,
the mining title did not exist. They didn't
have to apply for a new mining title and
there was no reason to give 5% to the state.
Summit Communications: How do you succeed
in managing accountancy between the commitments
taken before and the new regulations of
the mining code?
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: In order to give you
an idea, there are companies which existed
before with which we had signed contracts,
and their participation amounted to 55%,
while 45% was for the GECAMINES. There were
other conditions. They had to pay 250 million
of dollars. Some companies paid in advance
50 million dollars when Laurent Désiré
Kabila came to power but after the starting
of the war, the majority was unable to continue.
For other companies, there are small informal
negotiations for example between WINDING
and GECAMINES that are going on while waiting
for peace to come back to the country. Then
with peace, the new mining code came out.
WINDING came back with one of its partners
and the contract was negotiated again. The
difficulty of arrangements is in a hybrid
hypothetical contract that becomes difficult
Summit Communications: When we go through
Katanga, we can notice that GECAMINES is
a paternalistic-shaped company: social infrastructures
were built, like health centres, schools,
sports centre, etc
All the activities
that were undertaken in the past, and which
still continue today, consist more in a
duty or a necessity?
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: From the outset, it
was at the same time a duty and a necessity.
At the beginning of industrial exploitation
in 1911, during the construction of the
oven, Lumumbashi was in the bush. They had
to construct railways lines. People lived
in the bush. It was necessary to convince
them so that they become interested in working
with a direct compensation within the population.
Put aside the industrial development, social
development was necessary, given the level
of underdevelopment of the population. It
was not possible to start industrial exploitation
in an area where there was no school. GECAMINES,
under Union Minière, opted for the
construction of schools and that is how
they constructed a thousand schools in order
to guarantee the education of children while
preparing the relief at the level of the
It was also the case with the hospital and
the canteen because it was a bush and we
had to take care of workers, to train villagers
and feed the miners. At that time, nobody
went to the butcher's to buy meat At that
time, nobody went to the butcher's to buy
meat. Bread was brought either to the office
or people had rations at the end of each
month. It was also the case with medical
care. Each worker of GECAMINES had a monthly
set of medicines. Medicine was distributed
without any limitations: some expired in
the drawers; some colleagues gave them to
friends while other sent them to their families
in the villages.
Another example: if your car had a problem
of plugs, there was a system of voucher
to get plugs, as well as fuel. GECAMINES
did everything and was making the region
and the state survive. It is regrettable
that they did not seize the opportunity
to develop other industries.
Now with the fall of the production of GECAMINES
at less than 10% of its capacity, all those
sectors related to mining industry stopped:
subsidies for medical care, studies for
children, agricultural production, sports
centres. GECAMINES does no longer have the
means to maintain all those services.
We must also add that at the time of Zaïrianisation,
the state imposed that we should take charge
of activities that had nothing to do with
our activity for example the management
of Sendwe hospital, the biggest state hospital
of the province. And that example is an
isolated one, unfortunately.
Everything centred around GECAMINES. It
was a system in which they wanted to put
everything at the disposal of the worker
so that he should produce a maximum output.
But the consequence was that it did not
give the worker the chance to prosper within
another context. In fact, workers were taken
charge of fully, from recruitment to after
death. He was buried with the coffin of
GECAMINES and his children continued to
benefit from the advantages of the company.
It is a system that could be condemned but
it has to be replaced within its context.
Summit Communications: One can say that
the system has had its days and the company
must face other constraints if it wants
to remain in the economic sphere of the
country. In your opinion, what would be
the model of economic development for the
society, given the economic constraints?
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: Today, it is a question
of opening the door to the private sector
and the Congolese state must give the option
because there is no other possibility. If
the state finally decides for privatization,
the authorized capital will be open to private
individual. The regulation framework will
be determined. People must know that despite
the importance of installations, they have
not been maintained over more than 15 years.
There exist another failure on the side
of the state because there exist no law
on privatization. We have started the system
of public-private partnership but the legal
framework is still inadequate. To say it
simply, we need many GECAMINES. Like TENKE
FUNGURUME which, if it had started, would
be at its 11th year of production and could
have produced the same quantity as GECAMINES
of the past. That is the sketch that we
had in the public-private partnership.
Another option would be privatization but
it is necessary to define the framework
while knowing that the production model
will be quite different from the one of
a state company: private individuals come
to gain money not to develop the country
and create job opportunities. Unfortunately,
that is what people believe. Private individuals
need labour force to produce but if they
can reduce that labour force, they will
not hesitate to do it. If they can mechanize
or automate, they will not hesitate either.
The duty of private individuals is not to
construct roads or schools. Our government
must stabilize the political and micro-economical
environment. Government must open the capitals
to private partners. Companies that come
must bring technology. They must start training
programmes again. Without this, there will
be a true problem of qualified labour force.
Today, all the companies which start use
GECAMINES Labour force. But this will not
Summit Communications: What is the form
of financing that you would like to develop
and what is the sum required for GECAMINES
project to start?
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: Each project is a financing
project. Today, we have 4 important projects:
DCP with GEC, KTC with FORREST, KMT with
ADASTRA, TENKE FUNGURUME. Each of them has
At GECAMINES, we have a small project to
push to 250.000 tons but we must gather
270 million dollars because today, with
the present installations, we can get back
60% of copper and between 25 and 30% of
cobalt whereas with the new technology,
people succeed in producing more than 80%
of copper and more than 75% of cobalt.
Summit Communications: Who are the clients
you would like to develop your collaboration
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: As you know, we have
no preference. We follow the level of development
of countries. In the past, the biggest part
of our production went to Belgium, Japan,
and the United States. Today, with the phenomenon
of development of Asian countries and China
in particular, we have understood that China
represents for the moment the power of the
world's economy. China, which does not have
cobalt today possesses firms that produce
cobalt and succeeds in producing 9000 tons
of cobalt. The part of enriched concentrated
mineral which goes from Congo is mainly
the heterogenite of the deposits of GECAMINE
exploited illegally in the style of a cottage
industry. We gain nothing from the importation
of such minerals there the government must
make an effort to produce mineral of value
on the spot.
What is important is to succeed in giving
value to the Congolese natural reserves,
perhaps with the public-private partnership
that could bring a new technology and give
value to a structured economic development
rigorously controlled by the state in a
fiscal framework organised and stable.
The state must not ask private individuals
to fight against poverty. It is the duty
of the state. If it develops mining industry,
a well organized state will have enough
financial means. Presently, all that you
have here as construction or town planning
was done at the time of Union Minière
because at the time of GECAMINES or during
the second republic, all the money went
to Kinshasa and nothing was built.
Do you know that our GNP was equal to the
one of Canada in the 70s? There was money
in Congo. They even succeeded in organizing
the boxing match in 1974, between George
Foreman and Mohammed Ali, which costed 250
million dollars, instead of putting this
amount into the industry sector! We were
so powerful that even the Chileans came
to see what we were doing here. The metals
used in GECAMINES were of excellent quality.
Summit Communications: What is the message
that you would like to send to Americans?
Mr. NZENGA KONGOLO: It is a message of
hope. We confirm that we have important
mineral resources but that we have problems
of financing and management. We believe
that if we are together with American investors
or others, we will surely succeed. We call
upon American companies of copper or cobalt
industry and other metals such as zinc and
tin to come. We guarantee that they will
be welcome. We will make in such a way that
they make money and that the Congolese state
gets a profit from it.
I am convinced that f we have big multinational
companies installed here, this could be
the guarantee of a sustainable peace that
can enable an economic development and contribute
to reduce poverty in a sustainable manner
while giving a chance to private companies
to gain money.
As such, we can recall here that Union Minière
had gained money in Congo and has built
part of Belgium with the money from Congo.
It is a matter of pride for us and we would
be glad if the same Congolese wealth would
contribute to the construction of new structures,
or a shopping centre. We would like to start
the mining industries again with serious
multinational companies. We already have
big companies at our door such as ADASTRA,
PHELPS DODGE among other big companies.
If they succeed in starting something, I
am convinced that it will be the beginning
of a sustainable peace because if big companies
are installed here, I don't se who will
come to attack us.
At the time of Mobutu, when he was supported
by the West and Kolwezi was attacked in
1974, in less than 48 hours, Belgian and
French paratroopers came to defend the production
tool. Nobody could disturb the installations
of GECAMINES and all the basis infrastructures
At that moment, they wanted to punish Mobutu,
but they punished the whole Congolese population.
Today, Mobutu is no longer there and the
country is re-organizing and we think that
it is also the time when American investors
and others must seize the opportunity that
we represent, the geological scandal, in
order to make good business.