Is Canada helping the world’s poor, or Canadian [mining] companies? – by Elizabeth Payne (Ottawa Citizen – February 2, 2012)

This column is from:

Elizabeth Payne is a member of the Citizen’s editorial board.

Few  Canadians have likely heard of the Canada Investment Fund for Africa. But, since 2005, it has been busy investing Canadian foreign aid dollars – $100 million of them, in fact – on companies doing business in Africa.

The objective of the fund, which was eventually worth more than $200 million in public and private money, was “to spur economic growth by providing risk capital for commercially successful private-sector businesses.”

A number of those 16 businesses, including Orezone, a gold mining company operating in Burkina Faso and Banro Mining, a Canadian gold mining company which operates in the Democratic Republic of Congo, are Canadian. The fund also invested in Candax, a Toronto-based oil and gas company working in Tunisia, as well as a number of African companies, including the Commercial Bank of Rwanda, Mr. Big’s Fast Foods, and others.

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Congolese citizens will appeal to Supreme Court in suit against Canadian mining – by Sidhartha Banerjee (Winnipeg Free Press – February 2, 2012)

This ariticle came from:

The Canadian Press

MONTREAL – A coalition of human-rights groups say they will make a last-ditch plea to the Supreme Court of Canada in an effort to sue a Canadian mining company on behalf of the victims of a massacre in Congo.

The Canadian Association Against Impunity, a coalition of human-rights groups and non-governmental organizations acting on behalf of Congolese citizens, says it’s imperative that those people have access to justice in Canada. Quebec’s Court of Appeal last week overturned a lower-court ruling from April 2011 that had paved the way for a civil suit to be heard in Canada.

In their claim, the groups had argued that Anvil Mining Limited (TSX:AVM) provided logistical support to the Congolese military as it moved to crush a rebel uprising in 2004.

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Kinross Gold Could Be a Takeover Target – by Charles Mead, Liezel Hill and Rita Nazareth ( – January 20, 2012)

By paying too much for acquisitions in western Africa, Kinross Gold Corp. (K) is now turning itself into the cheapest gold-mining target in the world.

Kinross, Canada’s third-largest gold producer, fell the most in almost two decades after saying this week it will write down the value of its Tasiast mine in Mauritania. The company sold for 76 cents per dollar of net assets yesterday, versus the industry median of 2.5 times, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Writing off the excess $4.6 billion it spent on Tasiast would still leave Kinross at a 50 percent discount to its competitors, the data show.

While Kinross bought the Mauritanian mine for almost three times what the gold deposit is worth, the company is facing rising labor and raw material costs that may delay production at some of its projects. After more than quadrupling revenue in the past five years as gold prices reached a record, Kinross may now attract interest from Newmont Mining Corp. or Polyus Gold International Ltd. (PLGL) as they try to boost capacity to meet demand, said Stifel Nicolaus & Co. On its own, analysts say Kinross is worth 50 percent more than its current price.

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Kinross pays the price for mine delays in West Africa – by Sean Silcoff (Globe and Mail – January 18, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

OTTAWA— Kinross Gold Corp.’s drubbing by investors over delays at its trophy gold mine in West Africa is a fresh reminder of the gulf between the fortunes of those who dig for gold, and the metal itself.

While gold continues to trade at historically high levels – closing up $24.80 at $1,655.60 an ounce Tuesday – gold miners are contending with market antipathy due to rising costs and a string of unpopular and costly acquisitions. In such an environment, tolerance for bad news is low.

Kinross discovered that the hard way Tuesday, after saying it would take six to nine months more than expected to study and plan its Tasiast mine in Mauritania, delaying development and possibly negatively affecting production.

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In New Control Over Diamonds, Smugglers Pay in Mozambique – by John Eligon (New York Times – January 6, 2012)

ESPUNGABERA, Mozambique — The last time Mike Phiri was on his hands and knees, clawing through the rough rock of the diamond fields just across the border in Zimbabwe, he dared a soldier to shoot him.

Mr. Phiri and his fellow diamond smugglers had gotten into an argument with the soldier because, for the second consecutive night, he had directed them to a patch of the rich fields where there were no diamonds to be mined. And so they refused to pay him a bribe for allowing them onto the fields, in an area known as Marange. The soldier threatened force.

“If you want to shoot, shoot,” Mr. Phiri recalled barking at the soldier. “But I’m not paying.”

Mr. Phiri and his comrades walked away unharmed, but in more than three months he has not dared return to the fields, an acknowledgment of the increasing dangers for the black-market miners who once dominated an area that may be one of the world’s most lucrative diamond troves.

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First Quantum exits DRC with $1.25-billion settlement – by Brenda Bouw (Globe and Mail – January 6, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM-T22.220.241.09%) is closing a painful chapter of its history in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by selling its mines and settling all legal claims for $1.25-billion (U.S.), years after its operations were nationalized by the government.

Vancouver-based First Quantum will sell the controversial Kolwezi copper-cobalt project, as well as its Frontier and Lonshi mines, to Kazakh miner Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. PLC, also known as ENRC, the same company it has been battling in international courts over its properties in DRC, one of the world’s most attractive copper regions.

The settlement comes as copper prices (HG-FT3.40-0.03-0.80%) are struggling to rebound from a 20-per-cent drop last year, amid worries that debt concerns in Europe and a slowdown in China’s rapidly growing economy could curb demand for the metal used in everything from cars to construction.

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Millions From Diamonds Go to Mugabe, Observers Say – by John Eligon (New York Time – December 16, 2011)

JOHANNESBURG — Tens of millions of dollars in diamond profits — perhaps more — are being secretly extracted from state-owned mines in eastern Zimbabwe, bypassing the nation’s treasury and raising fears that President Robert Mugabe is amassing wealth to help extend his 31-year reign, according to monitoring groups, diplomats, lawmakers and analysts.

Even if Mr. Mugabe’s allies in the mining ministry are telling the truth about the number of diamonds produced, the treasury was still shortchanged by at least $60 million last year, according to a budget report by the finance minister, one of the president’s chief opponents.

But the amount of money being withheld from the nation’s coffers may be much larger than that. Experts, and even some members of Mr. Mugabe’s own party, say the president’s allies are lowballing the nation’s diamond figures by millions of dollars, hoping to hide the fact that profits are being diverted for personal and political ends.

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NEWS RELEASE: Global Witness leaves Kimberley Process, calls for diamond trade to be held accountable

5th December 2011

Global Witness today announced that it has left the Kimberley Process, the international certification scheme established to stop the trade in blood diamonds.

The Kimberley Process’s refusal to evolve and address the clear links between diamonds, violence and tyranny has rendered it increasingly outdated, said the group. Despite intensive efforts over many years by a coalition of NGOs, the scheme’s main flaws and loopholes have   not been fixed and most of the governments that run the scheme continue to show no interest in reform.

“Nearly nine years after the Kimberley Process was launched, the sad truth is that most consumers still cannot be sure where their diamonds come from, nor whether they are financing armed violence or abusive regimes” said Charmian Gooch, a Founding Director of Global Witness.

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A reality check on Canadian mining in Africa -by Lucien Bradet (Embassy Magazine – November 23, 2011)

This column was first published by Embassy, Canada’s foreign policy newsweekly.

Lucien Bradet is president and CEO of the Canadian Council on Africa, which is dedicated to the economic development of Africa. CCAfrica is a private sector, member driven, non-profit organization. Members include companies such as IAMGold Corporation and Barrick Gold Corporation, government agencies such as the Canadian International Development Agency, and schools such as Concordia University.
It seems that every time you read or hear about Canadian mining in Africa, it’s negative toward the industry. But Canadian mining operations in Africa are providing jobs to local people and taxes, dividends and royalties to local governments.

It seems that every time you read or hear about Canadian mining in Africa, it prompts negative feelings in you, or you develop a negative opinion toward the industry. Why? Simply because everything you read is quite negative, you are dealing half-truths, an incomplete picture of the situation, misleading opinion and, most of all, the results of shabby research.

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The roots of inequality: Mining profits soar, but Africans are still poor – by Yao Graham (Embassy Magazine – November 14, 2011)

This column was first published by Embassy, Canada’s foreign policy newsweekly.

Yao Graham is the co-ordinator of Third World Network-Africa, a pan-African policy research and advocacy organization based in Accra, Ghana.

Profits have ballooned in recent years, but African states haven’t seen their fair share. It’s time to look beyond the woefully inadequate compensation of voluntary corporate social responsibility actions by mining firms in Africa.

In 2009, African heads of state adopted the African Mining Vision. Its key objective is the transformation of Africa’s mining sector into a catalyst of broad-based growth and development and a key component of a diversified, vibrant and globally competitive, industrializing African economy.

The vision foresees Africa moving away from being a source of unprocessed minerals, towards the production of value-added goods from its mineral resources. It also recognizes that the governance of Africa’s mining sector must improve. It must become more environmentally friendly, more inclusive in sharing its benefits, more socially responsible and be accepted by surrounding communities.

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Congo’s plethora of resources translates only to misery – by Peter Koven (National Post – November 26, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Amid the biggest boom in the history of the copper market, the country with the richest reserves heads to the polls in two days with almost nothing but misery to show for it.

Monday’s election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) should be a joyful event: It is only the country’s second democratic election since 1960, and the first that is being run without massive support from the international community.

Unfortunately, the DRC remains a test case for a country that has failed to benefit from its tremendous natural resources. Despite an estimated US$24-trillion of mineral wealth, poverty is still at unacceptable levels: The Congo recently ranked last among 187 countries in a human-development report from the United Nations. Sectarian violence and rape remain commonplace in the eastern part of the country, and the government has come under fire for alleged corruption and mismanagement. The election has shone a light on these issues, but analysts worry about violent outbreaks no matter who wins.

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China and South Africa: An alliance of [mining] ‘pragmatism’ – by Kenneth Kidd (Toronto Star – November 12, 2011)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion

JOHANNESBURG—Jianke Gao strolls into the boardroom of Wesizwe Platinum Ltd. wearing casual trousers and a short-sleeved shirt, as if he were heading to the links. It’s a marked departure from the traditional dour suit of Chinese business. It may also be apt.

Gao is just a couple of months into his new job as Wesizwe’s CEO, installed after China’s Jinchuan Group Ltd. and the China-Africa Development Fund teamed up to buy 45 per cent of the company for $227 million.

The Chinese consortium is now arranging $650 million in financing to develop Wesizwe’s Frischgewaagd-Ledig platinum mine in South Africa’s North West province.

As part of the deal, the Chinese loaned $27 million to Micawber 809, one of South Africa’s black empowerment entities, so Micawber could buy a 6 per cent stake in Wesizwe.

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For the Oppenheimers, diamonds are not forever – by Marius Bosch ( – November 4, 2011)

Substantial part of proceeds earmarked for Africa

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 4 (Reuters) – For over 80 years, South Africa’s Oppenheimer family held sway over the global diamond trade, an era which came to an end of Friday with Anglo American’s buyout offer for De Beers.

The $5.1 billion the family will get for its 40 percent stake in the diamond giant could see a large chunk ploughed back into Africa for private equity investment or philantropic work in the world’s poorest continent.

The Oppenheimers have been involved at De Beers since 1927, when Ernst Oppenheimer, who founded Anglo American a decade earlier, took control of the group. The family’s fortune has been intertwined with South Africa’s history and economy ever since.

“At the end of the day this has been a very momentous decision for the family. We didn’t approach Anglo, Anglo approached us,” said James Teeger, managing director of family holding company E. Oppenheimer & Son.

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Anglo American shakes up diamond industry with De Beers takeover – by Peter Koven (National Post – November 5, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Anglo American PLC is poised to be the new leader in the diamond-mining industry after striking a landmark deal that promises to transform the business.

On Friday, Anglo American unveiled an agreement to buy 40% of De Beers, giving it majority control of the company that not only dominates the modern diamond industry, but largely created it.

Since its early years in the 1870s, Johannesburg-based De Beers has been the global leader in diamond mining — it had a market share of more than 80% through the 20th century as it controlled production out of Southern Africa. It still has about 40% of the market today.

De Beers’ influence has been just as strong on the marketing side, in which it helped create huge consumer demand for diamonds by linking them with love and marriage. The phrase “A diamond is forever” is one of its iconic slogans.

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Finding the golden lining [Nuinsco Resources] – by Thomas Watson (Canadian Business Magazine – October 19, 2011)

Executives from Nuinsco Resources, a Toronto-based mineral exploration company, recently checked in to the Corinthia Hotel in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. The oval-shaped structure is known locally as Gadhafi’s Egg; its construction was financed by the notorious Libyan leader. The executives were there to pursue mining opportunities in Sudan, a country with a rough reputation in the Canadian business community and where, until recently, only mad dictators would consider investing in real estate.

For more than two decades, Sudan has been ruled by the Islamist government of Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, who spent decades locked in a brutal civil war with Christian separatists in the south. Accused of genocide in the country’s Darfur region, al-Bashir is officially listed as a sponsor of terror by the United States and wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

Nevertheless, he earned some credit for allowing the referendum that recently led to an independent South Sudan and effectively ended the country’s war. But Sudan must now confront a severe economic crisis. The country’s annualized rate of inflation was 21% in August, and its division this summer handed the south custody of most oil assets. As a result, the nation is looking to expand its minerals industry.

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