How a Corporate Copper Mining Giant Deceived An Entire Nation and Its Govt
By Elika Ansari
Democratic Republic of Congo — The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is both the poorest and one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Though the country has one of the largest reserves of minerals and natural resources — including copper, cobalt, gold, oil, diamonds, uranium, and coltan — the entrenched effects of war, corruption, colonialism, and more recently, the move towards neoliberal economic globalization, have made sure that this wealth never really ‘trickles down’ to the people of the DRC despite the wishful promises of market capitalism.
Instead, it is used to make the rich richer and the poor even poorer.
The deal was struck up between copper-producer and mining giant Freeport McMoran and China Molybdenum Inc. (CMOC) three months ago, where Freeport decided to sell its 56 percent stake in the mine to work towards paying off its global debt bills. It seems, however, the DRC government was left entirely in the dark about this deal, in spite of its 20 percent stake in the Tenke Fungurume copper mine, and only found out about the transaction once it was over.
The DRC government is now in the process of pushing for an investigation in the hope of introducing a sales tax on this recent transaction, given the mine is a Congolese asset, but it is unlikely to get far, in that Freeport only sold its interests in the mine indirectly through an offshore holding company.
What is more is that none of this is actually unusual, let alone illegal, in the conglomerate world, and in fact, it does wonders for the neoliberal dream of moving in the direction of complete deregulation of the world’s markets and the continued expansion of corporate global reach.
But while offshore subsidiaries serve to ease the burden on multinational transactions of this sort, the not-so-bright-side is that it does so at the expense of the nation and its population. And for a country like the D.R. Congo, this only means it will continue to rank among the world’s poorest, and its people will continue to be deprived of the vast wealth that is essentially theirs.
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