Zimbabwe tries to reignite mining

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Steve Chiotakis: Mining companies and other investors are descending on Zimbabwe’s capitol today for what’s billed as the biggest-ever mining conference there. That country’s economy has taken a nose-dive in recent years. But its land is still rich in natural resources including platinum and gold. Both sides of Zimbabwe’s new coalition government hope the conference will help convince investors that the worst is over for the economy. Marketplace’s Gretchen Wilson has more from Johannesburg.

Gretchen Wilson: It’s been one year since President Robert Mugabe and his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, agreed to form a power-sharing government. Today, they’re joining forces to reignite the country’s moribund mining industry.

The southern African country has vast reserves of chrome, nickel, gold and coal, plus the world’s second-largest reserves of platinum, which is coveted by auto makers. But most mining operations screeched to a halt about 10 years ago, when Mugabe’s government started seizing property and calling for the nationalization of private firms.

The coalition government says it wants to pass new laws that will attract foreign investment. It says a law once proposed by Mugabe — to force mining firms to sell assets to local Zimbabweans — is now being reconsidered. Investors at the conference hope to learn more about those laws before pouring money into exploration and development.

In Johannesburg, I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

All reporting by Gretchen L. Wilson, © 2009

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