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cc. The time when Canada's presence on the African continent was primarily characterised by numerous missionaries and food donations is well and truly over! In countries such as Congo, Mali and Tanzania, when it is learned that you are from Canada, you are immediately asked if you work for the ‘mining’, a perception entirely consistent with reality. Canada is now a superpower in the African mining sector, a position the country intends to maintain and develop using all means at its disposal.

The salient presence of Canadian mining is relatively new in Africa and is rooted principally in the programmes of liberalisation of the sector from the early 1990s. These programmes have been driven by the World Bank, which from 1992(1) had begun defining the extractive sector as the main engine of development for many countries.(2) The privatisation of state enterprise – promoted as a means of encouraging the entry of foreign investment – has opened the door to foreign companies. At the head of this development, especially with regard to the smaller exploration companies known as ‘juniors’, are Canadian companies. These companies have an immense commercial presence in Canada: of the 1,223 mining companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, the largest in the country, more than 1,000 are juniors!(3)


Currently, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources Canada (NRC), only the Republic of South Africa, with over 35% of assets and investments, is just ahead of Canada in the African mining industry. But with South Africa’s assets concentrated on its own territory, Canada dominates the rest of the continent.

The data compiled by the NRC demonstrates the speed with which the value of Canadian mining assets in Africa has grown over the last twenty years: at US$ 233 million in 1989, this figure grew to $635 million in 1995, and $2.8 billion in 2001, growing further to $6.08 billion in 2005, and $14.7 billion in 2007.(4) This total value is estimated to reach $21 billion by 2010.
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(1) World Bank, Strategy for African Mining, World Bank Technical Paper no. 181, Africa Technical Department Series, Mining Unit, Industry ands Energy Division, Washington D.C., World Bank, 1992
(2) For a deeper analysis of the World Bank's political orientation, please consult the work of the Groupe de recherche sur les activités minières en Afrique (GRAMA) at the University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM).
(3) Without exception, the majority of the statistics mentioned in this article come from the Ministry of Natural Resources Canada (NRC) and have been taken from Fode-Moussa Keita, 'Les sociétés minières canadiennes d’exploration et de développement du secteur de l’or; les impacts de leurs activités en Afrique de l’Ouest', political science thesis at the University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM).
(4) September 2008 estimate.
(5) Fode-Moussa Keita, op. cit. p. 123.
(6) Ibid., p. 125.
(7) Paula Butler, 'Canada’s 21st Century Colonial Interests in the "Good Governance" of African Minerals', 2003, pp 24-30.