Brazilian Engineering Company To Offload Stake in Catoca Mine, Angola

Mining and Exploration
03/08/2017 13:08

Brazilian engineering company Odebrecht SA, a conglomerate selling off assets in the wake of a corruption scandal - allegedly paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes in association with infrastructure projects in 12 countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and Panama between 2002 and 2016 - has agreed to sell a 16.4 percent stake in the Catoca mine in Angola. According to a source, Reuters reports that Odebrecht exited Sociedade Mineira de Catoca Lda to meet terms of a 12 billion-real ($3.84 billion) asset sale goal, with Endiama and other partners in Catoca (presumably ALROSA and China Sonagol) buying out the stake. Another person confirmed the deal, saying it had been approved by Endiama's board earlier in the day to assert Angolan government control over domestic mining assets. Bankers have estimated the value of Odebrecht's Catoca stake at $300 million, based on a valuation of $1.8 billion for the mine.

Reuters reports, "Odebrecht is the largest of Brazilian engineering firms accused of colluding to overcharge Petróleo Brasileiro SA and other state firms for contracts, then using part of that to channel donations and bribes into Brazil's former ruling Workers Party as well as domestic and international allies. The group, which once was Brazil's largest private-sector employer, agreed to dispose of several assets to pay a $3.5 billion leniency accord with Brazilian, U.S. and Swiss authorities, and meet terms of a debt restructuring accord with banks." They also reported that Odebrecht agreed to pay $220 million in fines and will cooperate with investigators probing bribes of Panamanian officials, the Central American country's attorney general said on Tuesday. The fine included $100 million for using the banking system for illicit activities, said Panama's attorney general, Kenia Porcell.

Odebrecht had been a partner in Catoca, which accounts for almost 80 percent of Angola's diamond production, for over three decades. The Catoca diamond mine - owned and operated by Sociedade Mineira de Catoca, a joint venture of the state-run mining company Endiama (32.8%), Russia-based diamond producer Alrosa (32.8%), China Sonagol (18%), and, until now, Odebrecht Mining (16.4%) - ranks as the fifth biggest diamond mine in the world in terms of reserve, estimated to contain up to 130Mct of mineable diamonds, and with estimated production in 2017 of 6.5M carats.