A meeting between miners and Congolese president Joseph Kabila that sought to halt the signing of a controversial mining code failed to persuade such a move and now the law will be signed off the way it is, mining minister Martin Kabwelulu has said.
Top mining executives met Kabila for five hours on Wednesday in the capital, Kinshasa, to discuss the new rules that will see a hike in taxes and other costs for operators in the DRC.
But the CEOs also noted that presidnt Kabila was willing to have another meeting with the miners for further negotiations.
“The president did promise to continue further discussions with us,” Jerry Jiao, CEO of MMG.
The new law directs increased royalty payments and also allows the government to raise royalty payments on cobalt five-fold to 10% as it categorises the mineral as a “strategic substance.
Cobalt is a critical ingredient in rechargeable batteries used in smartphones and electric cars. Demand for the mineral has sharply increased in recent years as demand for electric cars and smart phones surge.
Volkswagen AG for instance plans to invest 20 billion euros ($24 billion) by 2030 to roll out electric vehicles, with another 50 billion euros earmarked for batteries.
Volvo Car AB on the other hand says it will have five electric models in its lineup by 2021, while Daimler AG, the owner of Mercedes-Benz, is investing $1 billion to ramp up electric-vehicle production in the U.S.
Electric cars are increasingly being preferred as many countries move away from fossil fuels to meet emissions targets.
Predicting a possible shortage of cobalt, American technology firm Apple Inc. has already indicated that it may buy the mineral directly from miners.
DRC is leading copper producer in Africa and the world’s top cobalt producer. Despite this mineral position, majority of citizens in the country live below the income poverty line.