Issayas used to be suspicious of foreigners, but that was before a mineral wealth bonanza looked possible
The Eritrean President and leader of the ruling People’s Front for
Democracy and Justice, Issayas Afewerki, has long sought to retain a
closed economy and prevent non-Eritrean involvement in his single-party
republic. In 2006 during a deadly drought and food shortage, he
expelled all foreign non-governmental organisations. However, mining
companies have spent the past two years quietly negotiating with the
PFDJ to establish gold, potash and copper mines which are potentially
hugely profitable. Energy and Mines Minister and veteran party stalwart
Ahmed Haj Ali has signed agreements with mining companies from
Australia, Britain, Canada and China (see Box).
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