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Russian state geological company signs exploration accord with Republic of Congo

Russia's state geological company, JSC Rusgeology, signed a cooperation agreement Dec. 17 with the Republic of Congo's Ministry of Mines and Geology covering exploration of a host of minerals including diamonds and gold.

The countries will work together to identify diamond deposits in northern Republic of Congo and carry out predictive mineral mapping in the northwest with a view to finding gold, tantalum, niobium, manganese, nickel and bauxite, according to a statement from the state geological company.

The agreement also covers hydrogeological work to identify water sources.

Rosgeology's head of international activities, Pyotr Zolotarev, highlighted a lack of prior geological exploration in the central African country and the promising prospects of finding new commercial deposits, according to the statement.

The agreement comes as Russia seeks to reestablish its influence in Africa and further afield after waning over the three decades since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Russia's political, military and commercial involvement with the continent has been growing since its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in parts of eastern Ukraine in 2014 and the sanctions that followed. Since then, Russia has supplied weapons, sold nuclear power plants and been implicated in a variety of political intrigues from Sudan to South Africa.

The Kremlin held a major summit with African leaders in October to yield US$12.5 billion worth of deals, though the majority were memoranda of understanding, which may not result in any investment.

In 2020, Russia will assume the chair of the Kimberley Process, the United Nations-backed program to ensure the provenance of diamonds.