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Vol 52 No 5

Published 4th March 2011


Gold rush

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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