Gécamines

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Gécamines
Type State-owned enterprise
Industry Metals and Mining
Founded 1966
Headquarters Lubumbashi
(Headquarters)
Area served DRC Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg
Key people Albert Yuma Mulimbi
(Chairman of the Board)
Ahmed Kalej Nkand
(President) (CEO) (Director)
Jack Rosen
(Board)
Products Gold
Cobalt
Commodities
Copper
Zinc
Uranium
Mining
Finance
Employees 6,000 circa

La Générale des Carrières et des Mines, (GCM) often called simply Gécamines, is a Congolese metals and mineral trading company. A diversified mining organization based in Lubumbashi, it is a state-controlled corporation existing under Congolese law. Founded in 1966 and a forerunner of the Union Minière du Haut Katanga, Gecamines is engaged in the exploration, research, exploitation and production of mineral deposits including copper, cobalt, tin, gold, zinc, among others. One of the largest mining companies in Africa, and the biggest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gécamines sits on the world's greatest deposit of cobalt and is the eighth-largest producer of copper in the world. Copper mines in which Gécamines has a major interests include, but are not limited to, Kambove, Kipushi, Kamfundwa and Kolwezi.

Located in the mineral-rich Katanga Province, Gécamines is currently going through a $3 billion reorganization Strategic Development Plan (2012-2016) with the main objective of repositioning itself as one of the world's top mining majors, mainly by focusing on core strategic assets in which the company has majority shares. In order to boost its production and regain its lost lustre, it has also recently forged partnerships and joint ventures with companies such as Anglo-Swiss Glencore International, American giant Freeport-McMoran and London-based Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation.

History[edit]

Having its roots in the mining company created by Cecil Rhodes and Leopold II of Belgium - Tanganyika Concessions Limited and Société Générale de Belgique - the Union Minière du Haut Katanga gave birth to Gecamines. On December 31 1966, the Congolese government under Mobutu Sese Seko, took over the Union Minière du Haut Katanga, then an immensely profitable Belgian mining trust founded in 1906, and transformed it into a state-owned firm. Once the world' biggest mining company producing an astonishing 500,000 tonnes of copper a year in its 1980s heyday, the company's fortunes declined due to mismanagement and government interference.

Nonetheless, the company remained crucial to Congolese finance: In 1989, Gécamines provided 85% of DR Congo's export earnings (against 60% provided by the UMHK in 1960), and 42% of public revenues, making it by far the most important company in the country.

In the 1990s, Gécamines financial situation took a blow, adversely affected by several issues, including the ageing of infrastructure and equipment, collapse of the mine of Kamoto, and ethnic riots in Shaba. These led to a slump in production, as can be seen in the copper production chart below.

Operations[edit]

Production of copper, by year.

  • 1989: 440,848 tons of copper, 54,043 tons of zinc.
  • 1990: 376,000 tons of copper.
  • 1991: 240,000 tons of copper, 30,000 tons of zinc, 9,800 tons of cobalt.
  • 1994: 32,412 tons of copper, 2,515 tons of zinc, 3,631 tons of cobalt.
  • 2001: 27,507 tons of copper, 3,463 of cobalt.
  • 2002: 21,186 tons of copper, 828 tons of zinc, 1,780 tons of cobalt.
  • 2003: 16,172 tons of copper (8,000 tons of refined copper), 1,200 tons of refined cobalt.

Despite these unfortunate figures, it must be remembered that Gécamines is still in possession of proven, probable, and possible ore reserves of copper (56 Mt contained metal), cobalt (4 Mt), and germanium (3.4 Mt), and zinc (6.4 Mt). With assistance from the World Bank, aided by partnerships with other firms and by proper governance in DR Congo, Gécamines hopes to resume its former copper production.[citation needed]

Sites owned by Gécamines[edit]

Mines[edit]

Gecamines personnel working in the Katanga Province

Copper smelters[edit]

Copper refineries[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]