Sierra Leone’s abrupt cancellation of an iron ore mining license last week has raised concerns about a resurgence of resource nationalism across the continent.
The action is the latest in a string of disputes between governments and mining companies in Africa, which is home to rich resources of iron ore, copper, gold and diamonds.
Gerald Group, a metals trader, said last Tuesday that its license to mine the steelmaking ingredient was canceled “with immediate effect” by the government, and it would pursue claims for more than $500 million in compensation.
A number of African governments are working to right what many see as historic imbalances in favor of foreign companies rooted in colonialism and to readdress contracts signed at earlier stages of certain economic cycles.
Commodity prices have rebounded since the end of the China-driven boom in 2015, with increased use of metals, including cobalt and copper, in renewable energy technologies such as batteries and wind turbines.
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