chapter  9
9 State participation in the natural resource sectors: evolution, issues and outlook
ByCHARLES McPHERSON
Pages 26

The mining story is similar. Emerging from the colonial period in the late 1960s, many countries in mineral-rich Africa identified ownership of mineral resources and of resulting revenues with their new-found sovereignty.6 National mining companies (NMCs) were created, and ownership and direct sector participation were achieved either through nationalization of foreign-owned mining companies or their assets, or through NMC majority partnerships in various forms with the private sector. In Latin America, mining countries with a longer history of independence, fueled by the same nationalist sentiment, a resentment of perceived US dominance in the region, and sympathy for socialist economic philosophies, also established NMCs and through them sought control over their mining sectors. Zambia, Chile, and Venezuela provided high profile examples of these early trends. By the 1980s and early 1990s disenchantment with the NMC experience had set in. Economic performance had been poor, the global mining and minerals environment had changed dramatically, a long-term trend toward lower prices was expected, and the break-up of the Soviet Union had discredited central planning in many socialist states. Lower state participation shares became common and greater emphasis was placed on creating investment frameworks attractive to the private sector either investing alone or in joint ventures with the NMC

under a variety of new partnership arrangements. There have been very few outright reversals of nationalizations,7 however, and state participation in mining, through outright ownership or share participation, either on a mandatory basis or through the exercise of option rights, remains common practice, at least on the books, particularly in Africa. Table 9.2 illustrates the incidence of state participation in 18 minerals-rich developing countries. As was the case with oil, other countries, not yet qualifying as minerals-rich, and so not included in the table, have also opted for state participation in their mining sectors.8