Tráfico de material nuclear

Cable sobre la empresa belga Malta Forrest Company

Date:2007-07-11 11:13:00
Source:Embassy Kinshasa
DE RUEHKI #0797/01 1921113
R 111113Z JUL 07




E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/09/2017


Classified By: DPOPOVICH, ECONOFF, Reason 1.4 (b), (c), (f)


1. (S) Several sources have recently stated that the Malta
Forest Company is mining and exporting uranium from the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to reports,
Malta Forest does this by mining the uranified rock while
mining copper and cobalt, then exporting the uranified ore
and circumventing radiation testing by using an established
system of corrupt government officials. Foreign companies
then purchase the uranified ore and refine it abroad to
separate the uranium, copper and cobalt. In this way,
foreign companies purchase uranium from Malta Forest, while
Malta Forest appears to be exporting copper and cobalt. In
2006, for example, a Finish company reportedly told the
International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) that they
imported one ton of uranium from the DRC. The DRC, however,
claimed that it did not export any uranium in 2006.

Radioactive Mines in Katanga

2. (S) All of Katanga Province could be said to be somewhat
radioactive. Some areas are more radioactive than others,
however, and there have been recent reports that several
Katangan mines have abnormally high levels of radiation. Per
REF, between 23 and 29 May, the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC) Ministry of Mines and Property for Katanga Province
sent a nine person commission to investigate allegations of
abnormally high radiation levels at the Luiswishi Mine,
located approximately 20km north-west of Lubumbashi, DRC.
The commission examined the mine site and surrounding mineral
deposits with radiometers, and sent 100kg of rock samples to
the Nuclear Research Center of Kinshasa (CREN-K) for further
analysis. The commission concluded that dangerously high
levels of radiation existed at Luiswishi mine, and that the
mine operator, the Mining Company of South Katanga (CMSK),
which is predominantly owned by the Malta Forest Company
(EGMF), was suppressing this fact to continue mining

3. (S) In early June, a named OCC agent told an Embassy
contact that he worked as an OCC overseer at the Luiswishi
mine for two years. During this time, Kilolo claims that he
and several unidentified colleagues notified Malta Forest of
the high radiation levels at the mine. Fnu Nkongolo wa Dila,
the Director of Malta Forest, reportedly paid him to keep
quiet. Kilolo said that Nkongolo paid him and his colleagues
several times after this as well.

4. (S) A named government official recently told an embassy
contact that a Katangan government delegation went to Likasi,
DRC in 2005 to investigate radiation levels at the Kisompe
Mine. The delegation reportedly detected high levels of
radiation at the mine, and found artisanal diggers, who were
employed by Chinese and Korean businessmen, working the site.
The delegation also inspected the Copinath company in
Likasi, and reportedly discovered that Copinath had 15 tons
of highly radioactive rock that it had obtained from
artisanal diggers at the Shinkolobwe Uranium Mine
(Shinkolobwe is now closed). The delegation submitted a
report suggesting that the rock be returned to Shinkolobwe,
but Samba Kaputo, the former and still de facto Special
Security Advisor to DRC President Joseph Kabila, reportedly
intervened and allowed the rock to be exported. Kaputo was
reportedly a shareholder of Copinath.

Associated Allegations

5. (S) On 7 June, Econoff had lunch with Professor Fortunat
Lumu Badimbayi-Matu, the recently dismissed Director of
CREN-K and the DRC,s Atomic Energy Commission (CGEA).
During lunch, Lumu said that in late 2006, the CGEA sent a
team, which Lumu lead, to Luiswishi to investigate radiation

KINSHASA 00000797 002 OF 004

levels at the mine. Using Geiger counters, the team also
found that the radiation levels were high. Lumu stated that
Malta Forest was mining and exporting uranium, and doing so
by claiming it was copper. At the very least, Lumu said that
Malta Forest was selling copper at elevated prices, and
foreign buyers were then separating the uranium from the raw

6. (S) Lumu was fired shortly after this CGEA investigation
by the new Minister of Scientific Research, Sylvanus Mushi
Bonane. Minister Mushi fired him, in part, because he
believed Lumu had struck personally beneficial deals with the
Brinkley Mining company. Lumu told Econoff that this was not
true, and that he negotiated uranium mining rights with
Brinkley on behalf of the DRC government. He felt he was
authorized to negotiate mining rights for the DRC with a
private foreign company to mine uranium. He stated that he
was trying to grant Brinkley uranium mining rights in order
to inject legitimacy and transparency into the uranium mining
process. He admitted, however, that part of the reason
Brinkley was going to be given the rights was because of his
and the CGEA,s damning report of Malta Forest, and that
under the Brinkley deal, a private company would be
established to inspect and certify Brinkley,s uranium
shipments. Lumu was going to be the president of this
inspection company, and profit from it. He did not think
that this was a conflict of interest. In fact, he asked
Econoff what the USG could do to help him, and if the USG
could relocate him and his family to the United States
because he was now afraid for his life. He acknowledged,
however, that no DRC officials, including Mushi, had made a
specific threat against him.

7. (S) On 13 June, Econoff had lunch with Lumu,s
replacement, Professor Francois Lubala Toto. Lubala does not
support Lumu, but corroborated Lumu,s allegations. He
stated that the CGEA did send a team to investigate radiation
levels at Luiswishi, and that Malta Forest is mining,
exporting and selling uranium.

8. (S) On 2 June, the Embassy received a copy of a grievance
that 20 artisanal miners submitted to Katanga Governor
Kutumbi and the Minister of the Interior. In the grievance,
the miners claim that that on 27 March 2007, local government
authorities in Likasi, working for the Mayor of Likasi,
Helene Yav Nguz, asked the miners to clandestinely mine 200,
60kg sacs of raw rock from Shinkolobwe. Mayor Yav, who had
partnered with local Chinese businessmen, allegedly promised
to pay the miners $20,000 for this work. The miners claimed
that they mined the rock, but never received payment. They
claimed that the rock was taken to the Kimpese Depot near
Shinkolobwe, and that during the night of 3 April, it was
loaded onto a red Scania truck and taken from Likasi. The
truck was owned by a Somalian, and had license plate
ACH-7893. The 20 miners signed the letter. (Comment:
Econoff finds such claims not credible, especially since he
personally inspected the Shinkolobwe Uranium mine in August
2006 and found that it was abandoned, and that no evidence of
industrial or artisanal mining existed. This allegation by
the 20 miners is noted for the record, however, since we
recently received another report from a separate miner in
Likasi alledging that Mayor Yav is working with unidentified
Koreans on mining deals. End Comment.)


9. (S) On 5 July, Professor Lumu told Econoff that an
unidentified Finnish company reported to the IAEA, in
accordance with the regulations of the IAEA,s additional
protocol for the DRC, that the company imported one ton of
uranium from the DRC in 2006. The DRC, however, did not
report exporting any uranium in 2006. Professor Lumu said
that IAEA representatives told him this in confidence during
a conference in Vienna. Econoff contacted the IAEA to
confirm this, but the IAEA would not comment.

10. (S) According to confidential OCC statistics, only two
Finnish companies (note: which may actually be the same
company) bought and imported "copper and cobalt concentrates"
from DRC companies in Katanga Province in 2005 and 2006.

KINSHASA 00000797 003 OF 004

These were Opolo Chemicals (who has a metal processing center
in Namibia) (Box 286, 1247, City Road, Johannesburg) and
Konkola Chemicals, variant Kokkola Chemicals (Box 286 Fin
1247, City Deep Road, Johannesburg). According to the OCC,s
confidential 2005 statistics for Katanga (which may be

underreported as many companies bribe border officials to
avoid paying taxes), the following companies exported the
following minerals to unidentified buyers in Finland in 2005:

Company - Product - Kgs - Destination
CMSK - Copper/Cobalt Concentrates - 57,705,275 - Finland
GTL - White Alloy - 8,033,434 - Finland
Bazano - Copper Concentrates - 582,336 - Finland
C - Copper/Cobalt Concentrates - 2,895 - Finland

11. (S) The OCC states that DRC companies in Katanga exported
a total of 255,650,678 kg of minerals in 2005. Exports to
Finland (66,323,940) thus accounted for 26% of all exports.
Of interest, the declared value of GTL,s &white alloy8
exports was considerably higher than that of the copper /
cobalt concentrate. As noted, CMSK works the Luiswishi mine,
which the Ministry of Mines recently found to contain high
levels of radiation. GTL, the Slag Treatment Group of
Luiswishi (Groupement de Traitement de Terril de Luiswishi; 4
Route Munuma, Kipushi), also appears to exploit Luiswishi.
Both Bazano and &C8 were miscellaneous one-time entries in
the OCC records for the year. Since the OCC only reported
one Finish importer in 2005, it is reasonable to conclude
that nearly all DRC mineral exports to Finland in 2005 went
to the Konkola company in Finland, and came from the CMSK and
GTL companies working the Luiswishi mine. If Lumu,s report
about a Finnish company reporting one ton of uranium imports
to the IAEA is true, then it is also reasonable to conclude
that Konkola reported this, and the uranium came from the
Luiswishi Mine. This assumption would be corroborated by the
REF report of high radiation levels at Luiswishi.


12. (S) It is unclear whether or not Malta Forest and other
companies in Katanga Province mine and traffic uranium. A
body of circumstantial evidence exists, but specific hard
evidence does not. Certainly, there are extensive, probably
profitable quantities of uranium in Malta Forest,s mines,
especially since the price of uranium (U308) has increased
from approximately $15 a pound in 2004 to $135 a pound in
2007. It would be difficult to avoid mining this uranium
while mining copper, and it would be easy to export it within
raw, semi-processed rock as copper, especially if an illegal
export system in an unregulated environment already existed
to do so. The fact that the Embassy has received several
reports in the past two months from approximately six
different sources that Malta Forest is trafficking uranium,
lends support to the circumstantial case against them (Post
can not confirm if any of this reporting is circular). The
fact that Finland may claim DRC uranium imports, but the DRC
does not record any uranium exports, is also suspicious.

13. (S) On the other hand, Malta Forest is an easy target; it
is a large company that has been working in the Congo since
1915, and it has been involved in business deals with various
Congolese Government officials. Statistics are also
intentionally muddied and manipulated by DRC officials to
push various economic and political agendas. Around 20 June,
for example, Governor Katumbi called Econoff to discuss the
REF Ministry of Mine,s report. He argued that Malta Forest
was trafficking uranium, and tried to get the United States
to intervene. Governor Katumbi was reportedly a shareholder
in several mining companies that compete with Malta Forest,
including the Mining Company of Katanga (MCK) and Anvil
Mining, although he told Econoff he divested himself of
ownership in these companies. Professor Lumu,s side-story
is also a case in point. What at first glance seems like a
clear-cut case of uranium mining at Luiswishi quickly loses
credibility by the revelation that Lumu planned to use the
investigation to push Malta Forest aside and form a
personally profitable partnership with Brinkley. Certain DRC
officials may have a powerful economic incentive to say that
private companies like Malta Forest are exporting uranium,

KINSHASA 00000797 004 OF 004

whether this is true or not, because this often benefits
their own business interests, and it is standard practice for
officials to receive bribes from companies to make the
problems the officials created in the first place go away.
The only solution to conclusively determine whether or not
companies are clandestinely trafficking uranium may be to
conduct an independent study by a neutral party, such as the

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