Canadian miners pursue prospects in war-torn Tigray

The Globe and Mail

Geoffrey York, Africa Bureau Chief
Zecharias Zelalem

With a devastating war still raging on, the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia has become a land of famine, massacres and brutal destruction. Its suffering has led to allegations of genocide, threats of sanctions and fears of a humanitarian catastrophe.

But some Canadian gold-mining companies see Tigray as something else: a potential bonanza. Their jostling for mineral rights has continued even as the war deepens, with the miners confident that the region holds billions of dollars in gold.

At least two Vancouver-based junior companies have been in contact with the Ethiopian government during the Tigray conflict this year, pushing to secure licences and rights for their projects in the region.

One of the companies, East Africa Metals Inc., has privately written to the government to suggest that its partners are ready to invest US$120-million in Tigray. In the same letter, the company demands improvements to the security of its tenure, so that it can fend off claims from a rival Canadian company.

The lobbying by the Canadian miners has sparked criticism from Canadian and Tigrayan activists, who are concerned that the investments could influence Ottawa’s position on the war and could encourage Ethiopia to prolong its military campaign in Tigray.

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