2018: Year of acceleration of modernization of Gécamines SA
- January 9, 2018
The 2017 financial year has just ended with the concrete materialization of an awaited commitment: the inauguration, on 22 December 2017, of the modernized registered office of Gécamines in Lubumbashi, in the presence of the highest State authorities and institutions, led by the President of the Republic, His Excellency Joseph Kabila Kabange.
This inauguration, a symbol of the transformation that Gécamines has been undergoing for some years under the auspices of its Board of Directors, presented the opportunity for its Chairman, Albert Yuma Mulimbi, to draw up an objective and uncompromising report on the activities of the company and to announce the major projects and challenges which await Gécamines for 2018.
Benefits below what was promised
Finding that the overwhelming majority of partnerships which management has been entrusted to external partners by Gécamines present negative results, do not generate any dividends, and thus do not contribute to national development to the extent expected, Gécamines initiated, between 2015 and 2017, a series of audits of its partnerships with the help of leading international firms. The initial results of these audits reveal that they were managed at the expense of Gécamines, often through unacceptable accounting and management practices. Gécamines cannot content itself with such a situation for longer.
In 2018, Gécamines therefore intends to initiate a frank discussion with its partners and, as needed, demand a clarification of the agreements in place.
Furthermore, Gécamines is attentively following the discussions currently taking place in Parliament on the reform of the Mining Code of 2002, whose stated objective is to rebalance the sharing system of the mineral wealth of the DRC, one of the most advantageous in the world for investors. As a recent report of a financial backer in effect noted, the boom of the natural resources sector from 2007 benefited more to foreign investors than to the State and local producers, the choice to have recourse to multinationals operating in the formal sector thus not having generated the economic outcomes expected. It is now clear that the generous provisions of the Mining Code of 2002 do not allow the DRC to fully benefit from its abundant natural resources.
Redesigned Mining Partnerships
In the future, Gécamines intends to break with past schemes that do not fulfill their initial objectives, contrary to the content of the studies produced at the time.
Gécamines has thus chosen to follow a subsidiarity principle. It will only form partnerships for the operations that require the contribution of third parties and that will allow it to maximize industrial or financial return. Two innovative partnership schemes are currently the subject of pilot projects with leading partners:
A time-limited partnership scheme (also called “BOOT”), based in particular on (i) the recovery of an operational and modern production tool at the end of a period agreed in advance, (ii) a more egalitarian distribution of shares, (iii) a real and increasing implication of Congolese executives in the steering of the project and (iv) an effective distribution of subcontracting in the best interest of the Congolese economic structure.
A mining production sharing scheme, inspired by the oil industry, thus allowing Gécamines to benefit directly from a part of the mining production, regardless of the financial results of the partnership, so as to guarantee to the Congolese that their wealth will effectively benefit them.
A Necessary Modernization of Gecamines
The desired transformation will only be able to bear fruits if Gécamines itself plays its role in the modernization effort that has been initiated. Between 2015 and 2017, Gécamines commissioned from various international consultant firms an audit of its industrial apparatus as well as an organizational audit.
The initial results of these audits are unquestionable: (i) its production apparatus, due to a lack of necessary investment over various decades, has become obsolete, uncompetitive and, often, inefficient and (ii) its industrial and institutional structure is no longer adapted to the reality of a globalized industry. Here again, Gécamines has been resigning itself before the magnitude of the task to be completed for too long. This situation can no longer persist.
As such, Gécamines has taken various strong decisions, including (i) the closure of its obsolete and dangerous sites, (ii) in the short-term, the concentration of its activities on its most profitable sectors, (iii) the investment in the certification of its reserves to prepare the future, which had not taken place for 25 years and (iv) the completion of a bankable study for the creation of a new plant.
Finally, the work conditions and methods within Gécamines must be revisited. Gécamines thus decided to initiate (i) a progressive modernization of its facilities, of which the inauguration of its registered office in Lubumbashi is only the first step, (ii) an organizational transformation so as to convert Gécamines to the best standards of the international mining industry, (iii) a global personnel training plan on the latest technological, legal and financial developments, unprecedented in the recent history of the company.
Gécamines intends to reclaim its destiny. As the Chairman of Gécamines emphasized, in the name of the Board of Directors, only the reconstruction of a strong national mining actor will be able to transform the wealth of the Congolese soil into wealth for the Congolese people.
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