ALBERT Yuma, a successful businessman and member of the Central Bank of Congo, is renowned for taking Freeport McMoRan to the International Court of Arbitration on allegations the Americans failed to respect Gecamines’ pre-emptive rights before selling its 80% stake in the Tenke Fungurume mine to China Molybdenum. Gecamines has a 20% stake in the mine, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) largest copper operation. The litigation is bold (and possibly fruitless), but takes its context in the work Yuma has been doing at Gecamines since 2010 which is to reduce its $1.5bn in debt by improving the business structure of deals it conducted with western companies in the early 2000s. It was during this period that the World Bank advised the DRC to simply sell control of its assets in return for dividends. Yuma thinks the agreements are poor recompense and wants to audit them for compliance. He hopes a recent accord with China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group will be a blueprint for how future deals should be done. At the same time, he is cutting costs at Gecamines whilst simultaneously hoping to take production to over 100,000 tonnes a year by 2018. Overlaying his efforts, are serious concerns regarding DRC president Joseph Kabila who has not called for national elections as set down in the country’s constitution.
LIFE OF ALBERT
Albert was born in Katanga province but moved to Belgium when he was nine where he stayed with a Flemish family. He graduated with a Masters degree in applied economics from Université Catholique de Louvain and built a textile and real estate business after returning to the Congo. His company makes police and army uniforms. He later moved into food supply but was appointed chairman of Gecamines in 2010, a company described by Global Witness as “the black box in the Congo’s mineral system”
“We want to become again one of the biggest players in copper and cobalt.”
- Web Address: www.gecamines.cd