|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
|Key people||Albert Yuma Mulumbi (Chairman)|
|Products||Copper, Cobalt, Zinc and other minerals|
Gécamines, or La Générale des Carrières et des Mines, is a state-owned mining company in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo). Its principal products are copper (for which Katanga is well known, and which often accounted for 50% of export earnings), cobalt and zinc. Additional minerals mined include uranium.
Gécamines is the successor to the Union Minière du Haut Katanga. On December 31, 1966, the Congolese government, under dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, took over the UMHK, an immensely profitable Belgian mining trust founded on 1906, and transformed it into a state-owned firm, Gécamines. From that point onwards the company's fortunes declined, as did those of the rest of the country (between 1965 and 1987, Congolese GDP per head fell by 2.4%).
The Mobutu regime has been accused of theft of the nation's financial and physical treasure. For example, one Gécamines official estimated theft to amount to 10% of production.(citation needed). During Mobutu's presidency, Gecamines' fortunes have declined, and they are now are seeking to enter partnerships with other firms to avoid bankruptcy (Citation needed.) 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.
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.
Sites owned by Gécamines
- Kakanda/Kambove mines (copper and cobalt), jointly with the International Panorama Resources Corporation
- Kamfundwa mine (copper) jointly with the Harambee Mining Corporation and Sogemin
- Kipushi mine (copper, gold and zinc) jointly with Ivanplats
- Kolwezi mine (copper and cobalt)
- Ivanplats description http://www.ivanplats.com/s/Kipushi.asp
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