Copper Giants: Lessons from State-Owned Mining Companies in the DRC and Zambia

Throughout much of the world, governments have entrusted state-owned enterprises with major responsibilities for developing and managing natural resource extraction projects. In some cases these companies have been effective vehicles for the development and execution of state policy. In others, they have fostered inefficiency, revenue shortfalls and corruption. To examine the governance of state-owned ventures in the mining sector and tools that governments can use to promote effective performance and accountability, the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) commissioned country studies from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in which NMCs have played a central role in the management of large deposits of copper, cobalt and other minerals.

Based on the experiences of these two case studies, the report highlights six main recommendations, detailed in the full document, for governments who are in the process of creating, developing or reforming State-Owned mining companies:

  1. Leadership of state-owned mining companies should have realistic ambitions, clear goals and well-defined corporate mandates.
  2. State-owned mining companies should aim for commercial efficiency.
  3. State-owned mining companies should plan for the long term.
  4. Incorporation and organization of state-owned mining companies should promote efficiency and accountability.
  5. State-owned mining companies should generally not hold licensing powers.
  6. NMCs should adhere to the same or higher standards of disclosure as private companies face, and should be subject to clear oversight.