new scramble for
plane crash in the
David T Rowlands
19 June, six executives - the entire board of Australian mining corporation
Sundance Resources - were killed in a plane crash in the Republic of
the 7 July funeral of four of the executives in
Premier Anna Bligh said of Sundance director Ken Talbot on 23 June:
'He's created a lot of opportunities.' At the time of his death, Talbot
had a personal fortune of $965 million and 35 corruption charges facing
Sundance directors created opportunities for themselves by 'developing'
African resources. But for the people in whose countries these resources
exist - such as the 'iron ore province' of West Africa, a vast area
companies are in the forefront of a new 'scramble for
old European imperialists are still represented in this new scramble,
along with the
October 2008, Sundance announced it had struck a deal with the Congolese
government to buy the Nabeba iron ore project, bringing Sundance's total
holdings in the
Since assuming what is effectively dictatorial power after a brutal 1997 civil war, Denis Sassou Nguesso has enriched himself at the expense of the Congolese people, three-quarters of whom, according to the United Nations' 2009 Human Development Report, live on under $2 a day.
Sassou Nguesso is notorious for the astronomical hotel bills that accompany his visits abroad. A five-night stay in New York's Waldorf Astoria for the September 2006 UN General Assembly session left the Republic of the Congo with 'a bill of œ130,000 - comfortably more than the œ106,000 that Britain gave the country in humanitarian aid last year', the 7 January 2007 Sunday Times reported.
The source of Sassou Nguesso's wealth and power is no mystery: his role is to keep the population under control, simultaneously allowing the multinationals free rein (in return for generous kickbacks).
also developed a close relationship with
all dictators, Biya does not tolerate dissent. In February 2008, protests
good relationship with foreign oil and minerals corporations (like Sundance)
has allowed him to spend like Sassou Nguesso when he travels. On 3 September
2009, the BBC reported that a holiday he was then taking in
of the chief attractions of
The multinationals rake in billions, destroying the natural environment and ruining the livelihood of small farmers in the process.
Glossy brochures produced for potential investors trumpeted Sundance's world-class infrastructure facilities, but this infrastructure is purely to facilitate resource extraction.
social infrastructure remains neglected, with often tragic results.
On 21 June, a train crash in the
Sundance is one of many foreign firms making their presence felt in the tri-national iron ore province with this vast, if largely unreported, robbery of natural resources.
This article is reproduced from Green Left Weekly (No. 844, July 14, 2010, www.greenleft.org.au).
*Third World Resurgence No. 238/239, June-July 2010, p 47