Western Austrlia to aid Africa in mining industry development

January 23, 2014

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett will formalize a landmark plan that will help build the mining industries in Western Australia and nations in Africa.

Barnett plans to travel to Africa to meet regional leaders in Zambia to sign an agreement under which Western Australia's expertise will be used to help African nations develop their mining laws, tenement systems, tax regimes and environmental and safety standards to levels similar to those in Australia, The Australian reported.

The deal will also benefit major Australian companies with investments in Africa, including Rio Tinto, Paladin Energy, Perseus Mining and Sundance Resources.

While in Africa, Barnett will also address one of the world's biggest mining conferences, Mining Indaba, in Cape Town , South Africa. It will mark the first time an Australian political leader has been invited as a keynote speaker to the event.

Barnett told The Australian that Western Australia’s co-operation would benefit African economies and provide a form of humanitarian aid, while also benefiting Australian miners seeking to minimize their investment risks. But he denied his active support for Africa's mining industry would work against his own state's interests by encouraging more companies to invest overseas.

"For many years people in the mining industry in Australia and in government have seen Africa as a threat -- I don't happen to share that view," Barnett said.

"I think Africa is more of an opportunity than a threat. WA is the biggest mining economy in the world, but our long-term future is not only here, it's also in being part of Africa's development."

Australian companies have invested in hundreds of resources projects in Africa, in 42 of the continent's 54 countries. The value of current and prospective investment in African resource projects is estimated at $65 billion.

More than 70 per cent of Australia's investments in Africa come from WA companies, according to the WA Department of State Development.

However, the continent is seen as highly risky by many investors due to weak governance regimes and political instability in many African countries.


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