Two news items today highlight the differences between Canada and Zimbabwe—if ever there was a need for insight into that obvious subject. The first from MineWeb
British Columbia’s mineral exploration industry Wednesday welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s announcement that up to C$130 million in federal funding has been approved for the construction of the Northwest Transmission power line in British Columbia, which could eventually connect with Alaska. The President and CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration BC (AME BC), Gavin Dirom said, “There is potential for $15 billion in private investment, almost 11,000 jobs, and $300 million in annual government revenues through the development of new mines.” “The region to be severed [sic] by the Northwest Powerline, which currently lacks sufficient infrastructure, is often called the Golden Triangle because of the great geological potential of several world class mineral deposits,” said Robert Stevens, AME BC chairman. The BC Geological Survey Minfile database says there are 935 documented mineral occurrences indentified in the Triangle. Of these, 67 are in the resource category.
Leave aside another verbal blunder by MineWeb—I think they mean served not severed—but who am I to cut the meat off (of?) the chairman of AMEBC? Leave aside this verbal blunder, and we rejoice at the announcement and its potential benefits to BC mining. The benefits will be real and I am off to check the stock price of the companies that could benefit.
On the other hand we have multiple stories of Mugabe trying to assure mining investors that if they come and invest in his country, their investments won’t be expropriated. Mugabe and his henchmen have taken all the land, farms, industries, and so on they could get their dirty hands on. They have ruined them. Now in another flush of desperate greed, they are mounting a new ploy: get those silly white colonials to invest money in mines and then we can grab that too. If you really are stupid enough to invest in Zimbabwe, you deserve whatever happens to you.
But one wonders. Here is a link to a speach by Morgan Tsvangirai, whose true role I cannot make out. But it is a fascinating speech for all that. Some quotes:
- As a young man, it was in the mines of Zimbabwe that I learnt the value of hard work, teamwork and goal setting. I am proud of this aspect of my life and, in the trials of recent years, I have often fallen back on the lessons I learnt during that time.
- We must also acknowledge that many of the problems that we have faced historically and continue to face today are home made. There is no international conspiracy against the people of Zimbabwe or any sector of the economy.
- All parties to this agreement accepted the land reform programme was irreversible, but we also committed our selves to conduct a transparent land audit to establish accountability and eliminating multiple farm ownerships. In addition we are committed to ensuring that all Zimbabweans have the right to apply land and farm the land with our principal priority being to restore productivity.
- It is a sad fact, that in recent history the local communities have been prevented from enjoying the fruits of our natural resources and, particularly in the east of the country, have been persecuted for their proximity to enormous natural wealth.
- The tragedies that took place in Chiadzwa and other places cannot be repeated. We must, as a Government, investigate, in an open and transparent manner, any human rights abuses that took place so that the innocent victims receive justice and to ensure that the protection of our people is paramount in this new Zimbabwe.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, to remove the uncertainty around the policy of indigenization, it will be based on ensuring that ordinary Zimbabweans benefit from the country’s mineral endowment and participate at all levels in the business of mining and mineral exploitation.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, in conclusion, may I say that Zimbabwe offers exciting investment, partnership and development opportunities. This is a new beginning, a new era and a rare opportunity to participate in the exciting development of one of earth’s last great mineral treasures.
If this guy is real, he may yet bring sanity to a nightmare state. But I doubt it. My bet is that he is a front man for the goons who hope to use him to put a facade of reason on their machinations and to help them lure silly white capitalists to part with their money to the enrichment of the ruling elite. Again I advise: do not be drawn in by this rhetoric; avoid investing in Africa, particularly Zimbabwe. Even Rio Tinto, the inheritor of a culture of colonial capitalism, advises inaction:
Zimbabwe will not see new investment in its mining sector unless uncertainty over a mining law and fiscal policy is resolved, Niels Kristensen, head of Rio Tinto’s diamond unit in the country said on Wednesday. Kristensen told a mining conference in the southern African country that he was encouraged by the country’s intent to improve its mining sector, but more required to be done to resolve uncertainty on the mining law, monetary and fiscal policies and marketing arrangements.
A few final thoughts on the speech by Tsvangirai. He touches on the role of sustainable development in mining. His take is fascinating: the investor must give up a lot for the right to mine, so that the money can go to the local people to build a sustainable living space around them. I quote again from his speech:
In return we will expect the industry to adhere to internationally acceptable practices, having respect for environmental responsibilities and ensuring that mining development results in community development. The local communities must be the frontline beneficiaries of our mineral development policy. With the resource base we enjoy, we are concerned about the manner in which the actual mining process will ultimately impact on our natural environment which it is our duty to protect for future generations. As we move forward, my Government is committed to protecting the environment and ensuring that mining impacts positively on the surrounding communities long after the mine has ceased operating. The social and economic structures in these communities should see other industries thriving so that developments that take place are indeed sustainable. We believe that this is a fair expectation as the communities will have hosted the mines during their life spans.
You must admit that is brilliant: come and mine and make us rich, and if you do not, we will expropriate it in the name of sustainable mining. They guy is brilliant and undoubtedly a front man for the goons.