Sam Jonah, entrepreneur extraordinaire
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» Moto clearing political bombs
» Okimo calls dispute with Moto
» DRC’s Moto to lift gold resource 33%
» Warning bells in DRC squabble
» Canada's Moto in DRC gold plan

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Okimo says clock ticking on Moto

Posted: Fri, 16 Feb 2007

[] -- MOTO Goldmines, an Australian-registered gold exploration company, must meet a 90-day ultimatum to start investing in gold mining infrastructure in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) Kilo-Moto belt, or risk losing its license to mine.

L’Office des Mines d’or de Kilo-Moto (Okimo) said Moto Goldmines had already served about 15 days of its ultimatum. “Let this be a clear statement, they [Moto Goldmines] have about 75 days left to rehabilitate existing infrastructure or they are out,” said Victor Kasongo, outgoing Okimo CEO in a telephonic interview from Kinshasa, the DRC’s capital.

These comments suggest Moto Goldmines’ dispute with Okimo is not concluded even though the firm claimed on January 29 that Okimo’s chairman had written saying Kasongo’s call to cancel lease and technical agreements did not have the support of Okimo’s board.

Moto Goldmines also said an agreement, enforceable by law, had been signed with Okimo supporting all previous agreements. The partnership between Okimo and Moto Goldmines had also been simplified such that Okimo had become a 30% shareholder in Moto Goldmines’ assets.

The details of the ultimatum are that Okimo requires investment by Moto Goldmines in a metallurgical plant, a power station and the Durba gold mining prospect itself in north-eastern DRC.

Sam Jonah, Moto Goldmines chairman, said the ultimatum impugned the integrity of himself and his company. “Moto Goldmines reserves all its rights in this,” said Jonah. He said the dispute was not in the interests of the “long-suffering” people of the DRC.

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The duel between Okimo and Moto Goldmines has been rumbling for more than a year and appears to have become heavily politicised.

Kasongo said the Okimo chairman’s letter to Moto Goldmines carried no weight because he had no executive powers. A complicating factor is that Kasongo has been recently appointed the DRC’s deputy mines minister, though he has not yet been sworn in.

Fund managers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kasongo’s appointment to the ministry had effectively removed him from Moto Goldmines’ affairs.

Moto Goldmines’s chief operating officer, Andrew Dinning, said at the African Mining Congress on February 10 that construction of a $296m gold mine in north-eastern DRC would commence in 2008 with first production from the 290,000 oz/year mine due in 2009 to early 2010.