The mining industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is being negatively impacted on by the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is proving to be resilient and there are several opportunities for the industry post Covid-19 .
This was indicated by speakers during Mining Review Africa’s 'Post-Covid-19: A brave new world for the DRC' webinar, on May 20.
DRC Chamber of Mines president Louis Watum commented that, as the mining industry contributes about 20% of the DRC’s national budget, there will be a lot of focus on how it responds to the pandemic and is able to support the country’s economy.
KPMG DRC tax and legal partner Louisan Kiyombo pointed out that the industry was already being impacted on as a result of lower exports, which, in turn, affects the government's tax collection.
Mining companies may also have to cut costs and jobs.
Demand for copper and cobalt has also slowed down, affecting prices.
Kiyombo commended industry players, noting that companies have shown unprecedented solidarity with government and local communities during the pandemic, contributing financial and equipment donations, as well as undertaking extraordinary measures to keep operations going, while simultaneously guarding employees’ health and safety and not cutting jobs.
However, Standard Bank CEO Amedeo Anniciello noted that as the world moved forwards, the DRC would continue to play an important role, owing to its mineral wealth. He added that there would be many opportunities for the industry when the worst of the pandemic had passed.
Watum noted that, coming out of the pandemic, those companies that do survive would be the ones that are financially strong and that have strong management teams. There would likely be opportunities for those companies to acquire good assets.
Anniciello noted that the country had $24-trillion of value in the ground, with high-quality, high-yield grades, which presented considerable opportunists. There is also considerable investor appetite for these resources, which means that funding will be made available to mine those resources in a post-Covid-19 world.
Pangea Exploration director Boris Kamstra commented that, with its considerable endowment of minerals, the DRC was perfectly positioned to capitalise in the post-Covid-19 world and, with the correct regulatory framework, could open new frontiers for copper, cobalt and other commodities.
He urged the DRC government to tackle the challenges posed by the pandemic and engage with global powers to capitalise on funds for its natural resources.
Watum, meanwhile, encouraged the government to also play its part and ensure a conducive operating environment that will incentivise companies to invest in the DRC's mining industry.
He called for the eradication of corruption, and discipline in collecting taxes and in spending money, and a structured regulatory framework.