African business, politics and lifestyle
Will bandages mend broken ties in the DRC?
The relations between First Quantum and the Democratic Republic of Congo have gone from bad to worse in recent months, after the country expropriated the miner’s $765 million Kolwezi copper tailings project in September.
A recent court ruling in the DRC has also cast a cloud over the future of the company’s Frontier and Lonshi mines, located in the south of the country. The widely covered dispute has led the DRC to accuse First Quantum of running a smear campaign against the country, the feud nearly foiled the DRC’s efforts to secure a $8 billion debt relief deal from the World Bank.
But in a rare conciliatory gesture First Quantum said it is responding to an aid request from the DRC, after a fuel tanker explosion killed at least 230 people and left nearly 200 injured in the Central African country. The company said it has obtained two tonnes of bandages, creams, painkillers and antibiotics from South Africa and is in the process of transporting the medical supplies to the DRC.
First Quantum, which expects the shipment to reach the DRC on July 8, said it plans to coordinate its efforts with the United Nations mission in the region. Can an airplane full of bandages help fix a multi-million dollar international dispute? Only time will tell.