Central African Mining and Exploration (Camec) is hoping its dispute with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over mining licences will imminently be resolved. The mining company has issued a release to say it expects the court to reach a verdict within the month.
The hearing was requested by the state-owned mining company Gecamines who rejected a previous judgment made by Le Tribunal de Grande Instance on September 17 that Camec’s DRC mining licences were legal and entirely valid.


The battle over mining rights began in August, when the Attorney General of the DRC informed Camec it was taking steps to revoke particular licences due to what he deems to be “serious irregularities” in the original issuing of particular licences.


Before the attempted licence repudiation, the owners were Boss Mining, owned by Camec, and Mukondo Mining, owned by Savannah Mining and Boss Mining. The attorney general wanted to see the rights over these mines revert to Gecamines, the state-owned mining company.


The discrepancies were said to be found in the transfer of the C19 and C21 licences in 2004 to Camec’s subsidiary, Boss Mining, and the transfer of licences C17 and C18 to Kababankola Mining Company (KMC), and Muukondo Mining, jointly owned by KMC and Boss Mining. The transfer of these licences was concluded in 2004 following an international arbitration through the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.


Camec has blamed the drawn-out dispute for forcing it to abandon its plans to bid for the Canadian-listed company, Katanga Mining. The allegations against Camec were made on the same day in August that Camec publicly revealed its offer to purchase all issued and outstanding common shares of Katanga Mining.


“Camec believes that this action is motivated by commercial forces in the DRC who oppose Camec’s proposed acquisition of Katanga. Boss will continue to fight this unjustified threat in the DRC,” it stated in an official statement to investors and the press.
Looking forward to a conclusion to the dispute, Camec has stated that is remains “100% confident of the rightful ownership of its mining licences in the DRC”.


It adds: “The company has invested over US$150mn in its DRC projects and has built a state of the art SX/EW copper/cobalt plant in record time. It employs over 3,000 people and is the only non-state company currently producing copper cathode in the DRC. The company regrets the insecurity and disruption that this unwarranted legal process is creating and looks forward to an expeditious conclusion.”


Camec has also filed a claim against the PR firm Bell Pottinger representing the DRC government. The claim was filed at the High Court in London on October 23. The mining company is seeking what is called a ‘Norwich Pharmacal relief “against London-based Bell Pottinger. It wants the PR firm to reveal who pays for the press releases issued on behalf of the government and who is supplying the information. The PR firm has requested the case be adjourned and it will be resumed in a month’s time. It has also issued the following statement to GTR, regarding Camec’s claim: “We are resisting the order for disclosure of our files. The case has been adjourned for 10 days awaiting new evidence from both sides. Camec has not suggested any wrongdoing by us or our client, the government of DRC.”