Sam Jonah, entrepreneur extraordinaire
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» Okimo calls dispute with Moto

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Moto’s Jonah in Congo parley

Posted: Thu, 29 Mar 2007

[] -- SAM Jonah, chairman of Moto Goldmines, said he would meet with Congolese government representatives “at the highest level” to resolve a dispute that has helped lop nearly 40% off the Toronto-listed firm’s market capitalisation in the last 12 months.

In a Reuters report, dated February 27, the Congo’s deputy mines mininster, Victor Kasongo, said a protocol to give Moto Goldmines a consolidated lease agreement in the Congo’s northeastern goldfields was not legal and could be cancelled.

Jonah said, however, he was confident the protocol would be enforced by the Congolese government.

“I am calling in all my credits I have with people in the African continent,” said Jonah in an interview with Miningmx. “I am spearheading this effort.”

“I have an excellent relationship with Kabila (Joseph, Congo president),” Jonah said.

Moto Goldmines’ share price has fallen to C$5/share after registering a high of C$7.97/share in April 2006, a decline Jonah said was partly owing to the dispute with Congo’s government as represented by Kasongo.

Kasongo disputed the consolidated lease agreement while CEO of L’Office des Mines d’or de Kilo-Moto (Okimo), the Congo’s state-owned gold mining company. He was promoted to deputy mines minister in February.

However, there appears to be more to Moto Goldmines’ dispute than meets the eye. According to Jonah, “mining personalities” have attempted to torpedo the company’s attempts at concorde with the Congo.

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“We know of mining personalities who have been hugely unhelpful,” said Jonah without providing details. “They have been undermining the relationship between Moto Goldmines and Kabila,” he said.

In terms of the protocol, which Moto Goldmines said had been approved by Okimo, the Congo government has a free-carried interest in all the gold mining properties consolidated under the company’s name.

Moto Goldmines has also promised to assume $29m in debt Okimo owes to a Belgian firm, and will contribute $5m in small-scale mining as well as pension liabilities of miners in the region.