How Canada Is Exploiting and Stealing Africa’s Minerals

Miners at a Johannesburg gold site once owned by Barrick Gold. Photo credit –ap

The Canadian government abets this exploitation by encouraging “investment/development efforts.

By Takudzwa Hillary Chiwanza September, 2021

Africa is a continent that is richly blessed with infinite precious stones and metals. And yet, the fate of these minerals seems to have been wrested from the continent’s people by the forces of foreign private capital. The neocolonial domination over Africa’s minerals wielded by Canada is heinously atrocious, even though good public relations efforts mean that people are not aware of Canada’s role in the exploitation of Africa.

Canada is largely portrayed in global geopolitics as a benign power that is friendly and is seized with ensuring that “less developed” countries are properly invested in. It is painted as a harmless country in which all must aspire for — and its violent role in fostering wars and conflict, as well as in stealing mineral resources from different parts of the world (with Africa being of particular focus here) is criminally understated.

In as much as the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Amilcar Cabral, Thomas Sankara, Julius Nyerere, et al sternly warned about the grave dangers of giving in to neocolonial domination, the trend seems to be on the surge. As if their calls are falling on deaf ears.

In the face of Canada’s neocolonial aggression as regards mineral resources, there should be greater concerted efforts to counter such aggression. But at the rate that Canada is going, this is tantamount to wishful thinking.

Most mining behemoths are based in Canada — around 75% of mining companies being based there — and it seems inconceivable that with this simple stat, Canada is pretty much sanitized in global geopolitics. The majority of internationally-listed mining companies are headquartered in Canada and these companies have operations in almost every African country.

These companies have largely been responsible for “dispossessing farmers, displacing communities, employing forced labor, devastating ecosystems and spurring human rights violations” and in addition to this, these companies are infamous for evading taxes.

These companies have also introduced the menace of private security. (Why should mineral resources, which are public resources, be guarded by private security companies?)

It is criminal that these companies continue to operate in Africa in light of these gross violations of fundamental rights and sovereignty. But all this comes from a deep-seated sense to “invest” in Africa so that the continent “is saved from poverty”.

Mining behemoths such as Barrick Gold, B2Gold, Orezone Gold, among others have wreaked havoc in countries such as Mali, Senegal, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burkina Faso, and others. In Zambia for instance, Barrick Lumwana of Canada’s Barrick Gold, FQM Kansanshi of Canada’s First Quantum are part of the four companies (the other two being Switzerland’s Glencore and UK’s Vedanta) that control all the mining operations of copper. This should make every African wince.

Take Barrick Gold for example. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, it is responsible for gold and copper production in several African countries that include DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Zambia, and Mali.

All the wealth from these countries is extracted to Canada and other financial capitals of the world as shareholders are rewarded while the laborers, some being children, are left to resign to their miserable fate. Barrick Gold’s listing was shifted from the Toronto Stock Exchange to the New York Stock Exchange.

The Canadian government abets this exploitation by encouraging “investment/development efforts” in Africa through initiatives such as the Canadian Investment Fund for Africa (CIFA) which preaches “privatization [of] business and other services, industrial development, and mineral prospection and exploration”.

The mining companies then fulfill this role as they spread such neoliberal tenets across the continent, further contributing to the immiseration of the continent’s citizenry. Such moves may be dissociated from the profit motive, but the preceding neoliberal diction shows that profits are what Canada is concerned about — profits at the expense of human life and dignity.

These “development” schemes, such as CIFA or WAGES (West Africa Governance and Economic Sustainability in Extractive Areas program), are implemented to “train local Africans in skills which they will need to work on sites owned by Canada-based mining companies, thereby increasing profits for these companies.” This goes in line with the language of “privatization, industry, and mineral prospection and exploration”.

Africa’s mineral resources — which are public resources for everyone’s benefit — are being privatized by Canada for its aggrandizement. Canada is abusing the African continent while the continent’s leaders think that these are genuine “investment” moves. Neocolonialism should always be criticized in the strongest of terms and should never be tolerated under any circumstances whatsoever.

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