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Zambian-Chinese mining pact

Zambian president
Rupiah Banda
Beijing, China — MININGREVIEW.COM — 26 February 2010 – Zambian President Rupiah Banda and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao have signed a mining cooperation pact that is expected to bolster ties between Africa’s largest copper producer and its biggest single investor.

Reuters reports from here that there was no figure put on the memorandum of understanding covering geology and mining, but that China has already poured over US$1.2 billion (R9 billion) into the southern African state, and most of that has gone to the minerals sector.

Four other deals signed at China’s cavernous Great Hall of the People covered construction of a road and an industrial park and other economic, technical and cultural cooperation. Hu praised Banda for seeking closer ties with China.

“Since taking office you have been fully committed to developing relations with China and have been working actively to promote practical co-operation between the two sides, and I very much appreciate your strong commitment,” Hu said at a meeting of senior officials.

Reuters reports that opposition politicians in Zambia have not been as keen on the booming relationship, and say Chinese mining firms have created slave labour conditions at their Zambian ventures. Chinese mining firms say they offer reasonable wages and operate within Zambian labour laws.

In 2005, about 50 Zambians died in an explosives accident at the Chambishi copper mine, run by state-owned China Nonferrous Metals Industry. In later pay protests, five Zambians were shot and wounded by Chinese managers.