Zambia is a copper-rich African country that just three years ago was the darling of international investors seeking to expand their mineral portfolios. Mining investment - encouraged by privatization of the copper mines in the late 1990s - and the copper price boom that started in late 2008 served to support the sustained economic growth the country had achieved since implementing measures in 2004 to support greater fiscal discipline. Leading multinational mining companies, including Barrick Gold Corp., First Quantum Minerals Ltd. and Glencore PLC, have become major investors in Zambia's mining industry.
Zambia's fortunes have turned, putting it on the path to become the newest "resource curse" story as its economy suffers from the perils of over-dependence on a single commodity and a handful of multinational mining companies. The copper boom is over (at least for now), Glencore has fallen into a cost-cutting crisis, Zambian mines are being shuttered, and the country's currency was the world's worst-performing currency last year. The economic strength of the country's mining industry has also been exacerbated by the Zambian government’s efforts to increase mining royalties, which led to threats of closure and postponed investment by several major mining companies.
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