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NEWS: Fast to announce FIPAs with Cameroon and Zambia at PDAC convention in Toronto

The Lumwana copper mine in Zambia. Photo by Barrick.

The Lumwana copper mine in Zambia. Photo by Barrick.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Canada will announce (foreign investment promotion and protection) agreements on Monday designed to help promote trade with Cameroon and Zambia, home to iron ore and copper and other mineral deposits, attracting the attention of some of the world’s largest miners. …(Trade minister Ed) Fast is to formally announce the conclusion of FIPA negotiations with Cameroon and Zambia on Monday at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) international mining convention.”

The newspaper editorializes, “The FIPAs are meant to give businesses greater confidence to invest at a time when resource nationalism has become one of the leading concerns of the global mining industry. The trend became especially pronounced in recent years as emerging nation’s sought to renegotiate terms of mining investments in the wake of booming prices for metals like gold and copper, trading several times where they were a few years ago even.”

The article adds, “In 2011, Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest gold company and one of Canada’s largest miners, spent $7.3-billion on the acquisition of Zambia-focused Equinox Minerals as it pursued assets in the African nation’s rich copper belt.” With the purchase of Equinox Minerals, Barrick now owns the Lumwana copper mine in Zambia.

In May 2012, iZambia reported, “Lumwana residents in Solwezi District of Northwestern Province have demanded that Barrick Lumwana provides safe drinking water to them before it discharges effluents from the tailings dam into Lumwana River. …Residents said to avoid any complications that would result from the discharges from the mine into Lumwana river, Barrick Lumwana should ensure people in the area are given safe drinking water as they all rely on the Lumwana River which they fear could be polluted. …Barrick Lumwana Mine intends to discharge water from the tailings dam into the Lumwana river.”

On Saturday, Harper’s minister of international co-operation Julian Fantino spoke at a conference jointly organized by the World Economic Forum and the Canadian International Development Agency timed to coincide with the PDAC convention. The Globe and Mail reports, “CIDA’s approach to mining has been controversial since Mr. Fantino’s predecessor, Bev Oda, announced in 2011 that the agency would finance three NGOs to run aid projects alongside Canadian mining companies in Burkina Faso, Peru and Ghana. …Opponents of the arrangement say Canadian mining companies generally make poor partners because some have been accused of environmental and human rights abuses. …Mr. Fantino said he can’t guarantee that all companies act ethically, but he believes many are committed to following best practices. ‘I’m not in a position to give an absolute housekeeping seal of approval on everything that happens in the industry,’ he said.”

The Harper government is currently pursuing FIPAs with Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Tunisia.