Who’d have sympathy for a mining company? Miners’ track records in the environment, in helping the communities upon which they depend, and in making money for shareholders have been poor, sometimes disastrous, for years.
So few people will shed tears for the mining companies that are currently getting it in the neck left, right and centre. From Africa to the Far East, governments are on the march – and the miners are in retreat.
Earlier this year the Philippines shut half its mines in one fell swoop, blaming environmental violations. In Indonesia, US giant Freeport is battling to hold on to its Grasberg copper mine. In South Africa, a punitive new mining charter could drive through strict new ‘black empowerment’ targets for miners and freeze foreign investment in the process.
And in Tanzania, the government is turning the screws on London-listed Acacia, hitting it for back taxes amid claims it has under-reported the amount of gold it exports.
While the circumstances differ in each country, a couple of themes are clear. Firstly, governments are not above whipping their biggest tax payers when it is convenient to do so. Kicking the miners – whether they deserve it or not – is always a handy, populist move.
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