On the Banks of the Furious Congo River, a 5-Star Emporium of Ambition


Frontier security officers were spotted outside Tenke Fungurume, one of the country’s largest cobalt and copper mines, owned by a Chinese conglomerate since 2016. Frontier has provided security for other Chinese mining companies, including Sicomines, a joint venture between the Congolese and Chinese governments.

Mr. Prince is perhaps best known for having run the private security firm Blackwater, which was accused of breaching ethical and legal boundaries. In 2007, Blackwater employees killed 17 civilians in Iraq. This year, Mr. Prince was found by United Nations investigators to have violated an arms embargo on Libya.

Shortly after the U.N. report on the embargo violation, Mr. Prince resigned as a top officer at Frontier, though his lawyer has said the move was “over disagreements with the management performance and direction of the company.” At the time of his resignation, Mr. Prince sold most of his holdings in Frontier Services. A spokesman said he no longer had any financial interest in the company.

Asked about the mining activities, the spokesman said Mr. Prince had for years seen substantial exploratory opportunities in Africa and elsewhere. “Those activities,” he added, “can be undertaken in a way that is at the same time profitable, environmentally responsible and ethical.”

To Mr. Kabongo, Mr. Prince is well suited for a high-risk place like Congo. “I like his passion for being able to move things from the moon to the middle of the jungle,” he said. “He’s interested in finding new frontiers. That’s what we need here. We need someone daring.”

Jide Zeitlin has been a partner at Goldman Sachs. He has run Tapestry, the parent company of Kate Spade and Coach. He has served as chairman of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, and Mr. Obama nominated him for a U.N. post — though Mr. Zeitlin withdrew amid personal and business troubles, some of which also led him to resign from Tapestry.

Now, Mr. Zeitlin is another high-profile investor with a laser focus on Congo’s minerals and metals and an occasional guest at the Fleuve, where he booked a stay this month planning to meet with top Congolese officials.


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