War Profiteer of the Month: The Forrest Group
There are many corporations profiteering in DRC; the mining industry is one of the most involved in the destabilization of the country.Following there is a list of some of these corporations, and from all of them we will highlight one: The Forrest Group
The Forrest Group has the longest history of exploiting the Congo, gaining its first mining concessions before the Congo declared independence from the Belgians. The group, which includes the Ohio-based OM Group, has numerous concessions in Katanga (Shaba). Chairperson George Forrest is the former chair of the Congo’s state-owned mining firm Gecamines, and owner of the New Lachaussee, which is a Belgian leading manufacturer of cartridge casings, grenades, light weapons and cannon launchers. His empire also includes munitions/arms factories in Kenya and Tanzania.
Until 1990 the government enterprise Gecamines, which owns all the mining rights in Katanga, was the government's money-spinner, providing at least one third of the government's income. The secret of this high profitability was that the ore was refined on a large scale in Congo itself, up to purity of 98%. This has changed dramatically for example nowadays Gecamines only produces 20.000 ton of copper while in 1985 it was 470.000 ton.
Over the last 10 years art of Gecamines have gradually been privatized through joint ventures in which Gecamines contributed its mining rights and the private partners put up the money.
In February, 2004, a contract was signed between Gecamines and British Virgin Islands - baed Kinross Forrest Limited, creating the Kamoto Join Venture and assigning 75% ownership to Kinross Forrest (based on a $200 million investment) and 25% to Gecamines. Georges Forrest International Afrique S.PRL owns 40% of Kinross Forrest, Kinross Forrest is now being taken over by Katanga Mining Limited, and what a surprise!, one of the board directors is George A. Forrest.
Forrest owns the main mining contracts in the province of Katanga, which is overflowing with raw materials and has always made the largest contribution to the national treasury.
Tricia Feeney from the UK-based NGO Raid said : "Forrest ensures that he is the only serious contractor in Katanga. Through his social network which he has built up during the last thirty years he has no need for clear rules, on the contrary. His competitive advantage is that he can function in an environment without clear directives."
During the colonial times it was mainly the Belgians who profited from the soil of now DRC, during the Mobutu era it was le president-fondateur who stoled the money from the treasury. Will the rich subsoil finally provide a sound basis for rebuilding the country? The answer depends mainly on what will happen in the province of Katanga ,a province controlled by George Forrest.
List of other mining corporation profiteering in the DRC
- Anglo Gold Anshanti
- Metalor Technologies
- Banro Corporation
- Anvil Mining
- First Quantum Minerals
- Moto Mines
Other corporations in the DRC
Bechtel in DRC
Bechtel was interested in winning business in the mineral-rich Congo and established an early and friendly relationship with the rebel leader Larent Kabila in 1997, before he took control of the whole country. Bechtel went one step further than many of its Western competitors involved in the Congo by supplying high-tech intelligence and offering to draw up a master development plan and inventory of the country's mineral resources free of charge. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company compiled, "the most complete mineralogical and geographical data of the DRC ever assembled, information worth a fortune to any prospective mining or oil firm." The company also commissioned and paid for NASA satellite studies of the country to develop detailed maps of the DRC's mineral potential." Robert Stewart, an executive representing Bechtel International Inc. became a trusted advisor to the Congolese leader, traveling the country with Kabila.
Coincidentally, one year after Bechtel initially expressed interest in mapping the mineral date in the DRC, coltan was discovered in the eastern region. This mineral is used in cell phones, computers and high tech devices. Since the discovery of the mineral, rebel groups in the Congo have made hundreds of millions of dollars on the illicit sale of coltan to the US, Europe and Asia.
Bechtel, a US aerospace & construction company, provided satellite maps of reconnaissance photos of Mobutu’s troops for the ADFL invasion of Congo in 1996. The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), led by Paul Kagame, the current Rwandan President graduate of the U.S. Army officers school at Fort Leavenworth, used Bechtel’s NASA maps to locate Rwandan Hutu civilians that fled the cataclysm in Rwanda in 1994. An estimated 800,000 refugees were hunted down and killed in the Congo’s forests. Bechtel’s friends in high places include former Secretary of State George Shultz (Board of Directors), former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger (Bechtel Counsel) and retired USMC general Jack Sheehan (Senior Vice President), who is also a member of the Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon. Riley P. Bechtel is on the Board of J.P. Morgan. Bechtel’s Nexant Company is the prime contractor on the Uganda-Kenya pipeline project, believed to ultimately facilitate petroleum transport out of the Semliki Basin of Lake Albert.