Der Traum der Goldgräber

Am Goldbergbau in Burkina Faso verdienen vor allem Minenbetreiber und große Handelshäuser. Die Bergleute dürfen dafür schuften – aber sie hoffen beharrlich auf den großen Fund.

Feiner grauer Staub durchsetzt die Luft in Alga. Wie Mehl legt er sich über Gebäude, Maschinen und Tausende von Menschen, die auf der Suche nach Gold einen Stollen nach dem anderen in den harten Fels treiben. Seit mindestens drei Jahrzehnten werde hier nach Gold gesucht, erzählt Elia Sawadogo, dessen Cousin einen der Schächte finanziert. Der richtige Boom kam vor ein paar Jahren, als ein großes Vorkommen des Edelmetalls gefunden wurde. „Jeden Tag kommen 40 neue Goldgräber“, sagt Sawadogo.

Read more on Weltsichten.

The shenanigans of the 88 Queensway Group

Format Link

Looking forward to reading this report in more detail:

This report examines these linkages by tracking the practices of one group of investors that has been particularly active on the continent since the early 2000s: a Hong Kong-based consortium known as the 88 Queensway Group. Cultivating relationships with high-level government officials in politically isolated resource-rich states through infusions of cash, promises of billions of dollars in infrastructural development, and support for the security sector, Queensway has been able to gain access to major oil and mining concessions across Africa. Starting in Angola in 2003, Queensway has been engaged in the extractive industries in at least nine African countries, including Guinea, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

Source: The Anatomy of the Resource Curse: Predatory Investment in Africa’s Extractive Industries | Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Taxing Resources, funding development

Africa is a rich continent. In 2010, the value of natural resources extracted on the African continent was $788 per capita. In comparison, development aid only contributed $30 to the income of the average African.

At the same time, the median income of an African is only $945, suggesting that a large part of the continent’s resource wealth isn’t benefiting the majority of the population. A good example is Equatorial Guinea, a country that has a GDP of $17.7 billion at a population of just 760,000 people, almost exclusively fuelled by oil windfalls. Despite this, 77 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line.

In fact, Africa is estimated to lose between 40 and 80 billion dollars per year to illicit financial flows, e.g. tax evasion, alone. Much of this money probably originates in the resource sector.

For resource rich African countries, answering the question of how to profit more from their natural resources is probably the political challenge with the highest stakes of our time.

The importance of the resource sector for the economic development of Africa will continue to grow in the coming years, thanks to rising prices and new discoveries. “We had a series of major oil and natural gas finds in Africa,” Todd Moss, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development tells Contributoria. “Basically everybody with a coast has had a discovery.”

The OECD, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme agree. “With a comparatively high price level remaining for some time and significant expansion of production over the next years,” the organizations write in the 2013 edition of the African Economic Outlook, “Africa faces a window of opportunity to create economic structures that can provide employment and income for all on the back of its resource wealth.”

Read the rest on Contributoria!

Pickaxes into plowshares? Two visions for development in the DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a rich land – in theory, at least. Below its soil lie some of the world’s largest reserves of copper, cobalt, tin, tantalum and considerable amounts of gold and diamonds. It is the type of wealth that is measured in billions of Dollars and which has fuelled the industrial revolution in Europe and beyond.

In practice, the DR Congo is poor. Its population of 66 million produces only an average of 230 Dollars per year and person in goods and services, making it literally the poorest country in the world, if measured by that metric.

Little wonder that many people want to change this unfortunate state of affairs. And little wonder, too, that most of these people are looking at the wealth beneath their feet for a solution. The Congolese government, its people, the international community, international and local business – they all have high hopes for the mining sector. For them, mining, and especially large scale operations, are the ticket to a brighter future for the Congo and its people, not to speak of the profits involved.

But mining brings with it a whole host of problems. Apart from obvious issues with environmental degradation, the incredible amounts of money involved with mining projects have so far arguably done more bad than good for the Congo and despite being a major branch of the Congolese economy since colonial times, most Congolese have yet to profit from the riches that are ripped from their soil every day. Can mining really hold its promises for the development of the DR Congo, or are there alternative, better ways for the government, donors and businesses to invest in a brighter future for the Congolese people?

Read the rest on Contributoria.

Rich links: diamonds and bushmen in Botswana

As usual, the web’s most interesting reads:

Diamonds and Bushmen

Charity Survival International alleges that the government of Botswana systematically uses access to water as weapon to drive the country’s Bushmen out of their diamond rich reservation. The Independent

South Sudan plans allocation of new exploration blocks

The East African country will hold an auction to sell exploration licences to new oil blocks. If exploration proves successful, additional oil production could significantly enhance government income. Voice of America

Tullow Oil stops exploration in Kenya

After demonstrations in Kenya’s Turkana region by local communities demanding a greater share of jobs and higher income from Tullow’s operations, the British company has suspended all exploration activity in the area. Kenya hopes to significantly add to its natural resources portfolio with oil deposits currently appraised by Tullow. Sabahi | the Star | African Mining Brief

Zambia first cancels, then reinstates tax on unrefined copper exports

Only days Zambia has cancelled a 10% export tax on unrefined copper and other minerals, the country’s president Michael Sata has ordered his government to reintroduce the tax. Lifting the regulation had been a key demand of international mining firms, which argued that Zambia doesn’t have the necessary smelting capacity to process all ores in the country itself and that the additional tax would make operations uncompetitive. African Mining Brief

The future of Tanzania’s mining sector

Tanzania sports quite a wealth of various precious metals, gemstones, fossil fuels and other minerals. But falling gold prices and power challenges have made some investors weary. Mining Weekly | Daily News

Other stuff

  • How can African countries use their oil revenue for lasting development? the Guardian
  • Angola has opened a training centre for oil industry related professions: Mining Review
  • Women are breaking into the male dominated mining sector in Zimbabwe: IRIN

Rich Links: Natural Gas in Tanzania, Nuclear Power in South Africa and More

As always, the best links from around the internet:

New policy on natural gas coming soon in Tanzania

The government of Tanzania is on the verge of passing a new national policy on natural gas exploitation. So far the country has no specific official policy in that sector and the new legislation wants to address specifically the issue of local content. AllAfrica/Tanzania Daily News (2)

South Africa aims for new nuclear power plants

The South African government pushes for the construction of new nuclear power plants to increase the generation of nuclear energy from 1,800 MW to 9,600 MW per year by 2030. Key financial decisions are planned to be taken this financial year. South Africa currently runs the only active nuclear power plant on the African continent and pursues a large nuclear capacity under the label of “clean” and indigenous energy. AllAfrica/SouthAfrica.info

Resources in the DR Congo

A detailed look at the trends and challenges of the natural resources sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ventures Africa

The dangers of the use mercury in gold mining

Mercury is used by the great majority of artisanal gold miners in Africa, numbering millions, but its use results in dramatic health problems. A new international treaty aims to reduce the amount of mercury used, but changing entrenched practices in local communities will be hard. The Economist

Search for oil kills whales off Madagascar

A sonar system, operated by Exxon Mobile to explore oil fields off the Madagascan coast, is the reason for the death of dozens of melon-headed whales. This is the finding of an independent scientific commission. Global Post

Three alternatives for South Sudanese oil

The governments of South Sudan and Kenya are currently planning the establishment of a new pipeline corridor to transfer Sudanese oil to the Indian Sea at Lamu. This article argues that the better alternatives would be to transfer the oil by either rail or road. AllAfrica/Pambazuka News

High hopes for Rwandan mining sector

The Rwandan government wants the country’s mining exports to triple by 2017. AllAfrica/Rwanda Focus

Rich Links: Mining in Kenya, Child Labour and Oil in Uganda

As usual, the best articles from around the internet:

Kenya revokes mining licences, plans new mining policy

The Kenyan government has revoked all mining licences given out between January and May this year, citing “questionable circumstances” in their allocation. With high hopes for the mining sector, the government also plans to put in place a new mining policy soon. Mining Review

Legalization vs. child labour in mining

In an interesting article, author Dan Paget argues that advocacy organizations like Human Rights Watch are focussing too much on the practice of child labour in mining to the detriment of pushing the agenda for legalizing small-scale artisanal mining. Reports by these organisations, according to his argument, have tremendous power to shape the debate and policy around artisanal mining in Africa and give incentives to governments to keep these practices illegal or in a legal grey zone. Pushing for legalization, on the other hand, would give governments the power to effectively regulate the sector, providing a sustainable way to end child labour in the long-term. Think Africa Press

Uganda issues oil production license to Chinese firm, wants to start producing crude in 2016

Chinese company CNOOC has received a licence to start crude oil production at the Kingfisher field from the Ugandan government, with the first crude expected to flow in 2016. Uganda has put high hopes on its oil reserves, with several refineries in planning to satisfy local fuel demands. Successfully bringing oil online is a cornerstone of current president Museveni’s bid to stay in power. AllAfrica/The Independent

For further reading on Uganda’s oil sector, I recommend a recent report by Dutch research organization IPIS, “Business, Human Rights and Uganda’s Oil”.

Rich Links: No Gas in Ghana, No Phosphate in Nambia, But More Oil in Libya

Some worthwhile reading from around the web:

Namibia bans phosphate mining

The Namibian government has declared a moratorium on phosphate mining in coastal waters. This is a reaction to ongoing protests from the fishing industry. The government and mining companies had plans to start exploiting the underwater reserves of phosphate, but mining phosphate at sea has never been done before. Fishermen and their employers — fish is one of Namibia’s most important exports — are afraid of possible negative environmental consequences of the mining endeavour. Mining Review

No gas for Ghana

The gas pipeline delivering natural liquified gas from the Jubilee oil field to several gas power stations in Ghana won’t be ready until 2014. The pipeline was due to go online at the beginning of this year, but the sinking of a ship with supplies and financing problems delayed are delaying completion. Ghana experiences severe power outages since a shipping accident made gas supply from Nigeria unreliable and solving the energy crisis has been a main campaign issue in the recent elections. AllAfrica/The Cronicle

Oil flows again in Libya

About thirty per cent of Libya’s oil production capacity has come back online, after militias opened the valves on an important pipeline in the west of the country. Several militias and regional groups are using oil flows to put the Libyan government under pressure in negotiations over jobs, payment and decentralisation of political power. Libyan oil is mostly exported to southern Europe and the row has led to rising prices on world markets. New York Times

Artisanal Gold Miners in Burkina Faso [Video]

Last month, I visited a gold mining camp in northern Burkina Faso. Here is a short video from that trip.

Around 30 families live in that location and search for gold. The work is fully manual and unbelievably hard. Temperatures here reach 40°C in the shade easily and there is not much shade to begin with.

If the miners (both men an women ply this trade) are very lucky, they find enough gold to sell for around 2,000 Franc CFA every few days. That equals about three Euros.