Glencore settles with Gertler over Congo royalties

LONDON (Reuters) - Glencore GLEN.L has settled a mining dispute in Democratic Republic of Congo with two companies associated with Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler by agreeing to pay royalties in a currency other than U.S. dollars, the company said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of commodities trader Glencore is pictured in front of the company's headquarters in Baar, Switzerland, July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

U.S. sanctions on Gertler, Glencore’s former Israeli partner in copper and cobalt operations in Congo had triggered litigation and a legal tangle that investors worried might affect supplies of cobalt from the world’s biggest producer of the metal.

Glencore earlier this week reached a settlement in another dispute involving its Kamoto copper and cobalt mine in Congo, although it remains at odds with the Congolese government over a mining code signed off at the start of the year.

Gertler’s Ventora Development Sasu had been seeking $695 million (524.33 million pounds) in unpaid and future royalties from Glencore’s subsidiary Mutanda Mining and $2.28 billion from Glencore subsidiary Kamoto Copper Co (KCC).

Ventora accused KCC of breaching an agreement by declining to make royalty payments because Gertler was under U.S. sanctions, Glencore said in April.

The U.S. government added Gertler and affiliated companies to its sanctions list in December last year, accusing him of using his friendship with Congo President Joseph Kabila to secure sweetheart mining deals. Gertler has denied all allegations of impropriety.

Glencore said it believed payment of the royalties in a currency other than U.S. dollars to Africa Horizons Investments Limited and Ventora without the involvement of U.S. entities would address applicable sanctions obligations. It added it had discussed the matter “with the appropriate U.S. and Swiss government agencies”.

The two companies have on this basis withdrawn all pending and threatened litigation, it said.

For this year, Gertler will receive approximately 25 million euros ($28.90 million).

Glencore shares were trading 0.2 percent higher at 0724 GMT.

Earlier this week, Glencore's unit Katanga Mining Ltd KAT.TO said it agreed a recapitalisation plan for copper and cobalt venture Kamoto, involving writing off $5.6 billion in debt.

Glencore and other international miners still have to resolve a row with the Congolese government over a new mining code that has raised the amount of royalties and tax to be paid on minerals.

Glencore accounts for more than a quarter of the world's cobalt output, most of it from Congo, which itself is the source of around 60 percent of global supplies. Any disruption could push up cobalt prices from already historic highs of near $100,000 a tonne. CBD3

Reporting by Barbara Lewis in London and Patrick Graham in Bengaluru; Editing by Adrian Croft