Chavez proposes Africa-South America mining firm

PORLAMAR, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuela’s  President Hugo Chavez proposed  yesterday that South American  and African nations unite to create a cross-continental mining  corporation to keep control of their resources.

“Africa and South America are rich lands, yet their peoples  are poor, because they have been exploited,” Chavez told a  summit attended by 28 African and South American leaders.

The meeting has been dominated by calls for poor nations to  unite against the global economic dominance of the West.

Chavez said Venezuela had agreed to form a joint venture in  mining with Sierra Leone, and was signing letters of intention  with Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Namibia.

Chavez proposed a “multi-state” corporation for the South  America-Africa group meeting on Margarita island, saying  Venezuela could lead the way given it had obtained major funds  recently for mining investment.

“Without having conditions imposed on us, we obtained  various billions of dollars a while ago to invest in mining.  And with a part of the production of gold, iron, diamonds, we  are going to pay that investment,” he said.

Venezuela recently signed a series of energy and military  deals with Russia that included a $4 billion Russian loan to  help the South American country develop its mining sector. It  was not, however, clear if that was the source of the funds  Chavez referred to.

Venezuela holds some of Latin America’s most undeveloped  mineral deposits, including gold, diamonds and bauxite.

Venezuelan Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said Chavez was  also offering to help some African countries identify their  mineral deposits.

“We’re hoping to set up a technical commission within 30  days that will begin the first steps of setting up exploration  camps and geological prospecting,” Sanz said in a statement.
Chavez also called for similar cross-continental  corporation for oil development.
“We have to do it. This is our way forward,” he said.

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