Dented by the Congo rebellion, renewed fighting in Angola, failed privatisation plans in Zambia and slumping metal prices, mining investors are singing the blues.
Long-term prospects are not so dim in these three mineralrich countries but the short-to-medium term outlook is bleak, say analysts. The central African belt is one of the world's greatest mineral deposits, holding 34 per cent cobalt and 10 per cent of copper reserves in the world. In the 1970s, these mines accounted for 20 per cent of" copper and 60 per cent of cobalt production. The figures have now come down to 3.5 per cent and 37.5 per cent respectively.
Cash-strapped Congo is desperately in need of investment. Though foreign companies are eager to roll ahead, few have made capital commitments because of delays in getting final approvals. In Angola, fresh wave of violence has curbed hopes that the 1994 peace deal would transform the fledging diamond industry into a full-scale one. And in Zambia, privatisation plans of its copper giant has affected the economy, angered foreign donors and frustrated buyers. The worldwide slump in base metal prices has also dampened enthusiasm for investing in mining ventures.
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