Zimbabwe asks Australia for mining aid; despite threatening foreign miners

Zimbabwe has asked Australia to aid it in exploiting its mineral deposits while at the same time it cracks down on foreign operations in the country.

Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's prime minister, has come to Australia to seek 'bilateral economic co-operation' and encourage Australian investment, telling The Australian that "the time to re-engage in Zimbabwe is now".

One of the main focuses for Tsvangirai was Australia's mining industry.

"A lot of mining expertise resides in Australia and we can benefit a lot from that co-operation with the Australian mining industry."

However, this 'co-operation' comes as the country's government has taken a more nationalistic stance towards minerals and foreign operations in the country.

Last year it threatened to expel any foreign owned mining company that did not hand over more than half of their operations.

It also recently increased exploration licences by 5000% in some cases, and has also banned any new foreign companies from obtaining mining licences.

Despite this, Tsvangirai said that company security is not a concern, adding that "It is purely a business consideration. The country is stable. It has all the minerals except oil. One can exploit gold, platinum, chrome, whatever".

This is contradictory to what Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe stated last month.

"What we should do in a much more massive way is to organise our people, put them together, our ­geologists, mining engineers," he said.

"Let them form companies so that we don’t need foreigners…as no new foreign companies will be licensed."

“Can’t we dig our own gold, we can borrow on the strength of the minerals.”"

Mugagbe went on to say that the amount that foreign miners still hold, up to 49% in some cases, was still too much.

"This 49 per cent is a whole lot of money."

However, Tsvangirai has countered this stance, saying there will be a future easing in foreign investment.

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