Australia pushes for expansion into African mining

Australia's political and business leaders signaled their emphatic support for the country's increased involvement in the African mining sector at a conference in Perth on Thursday.

During a speech at the Africa Downunder conference in Perth Australian foreign minister Bob Carr strongly encouraged local companies to enter Africa saying that there was plenty of investment to be shared and that Australia's own resources sector would not suffer as a consequence.

According to the Herald Sun Carr said that Australia and Africa are "natural partners" and that the Australian resources boom was "spilling over" with Australian firms already achieving successes in the resource-rich continent.

Carr said that 40% of Australian overseas mining projects are in Africa, while one in 20 Australian listed companies have investments in Africa.

The foreign minister's remarks arrive just as Australia's Commonwealth Business Council spearheads greater investment by Australian miners in Africa.

The Australian writes that the CBC has set a target of AUD$10 billion in deals before the end of this year arising from its Commonwealth Business Forum in Perth last year, and that it plans to conduct investment forums in Zambia, Nigeria and Mozambique over the next three months.

At the same conference KPMG Mining Head Ian Kramer said Australian companies could only avoid Africa at their own peril, and that despite the higher risks involved the rewards on offer were far greater than those available elsewhere.

These emphatic signals of support for expanded Australian investment in Africa arrive in the immediate wake of intense dispute over whether Australia's mining boom has reached its end, with resources minister Martin Ferguson's controversial remarks on the subject triggering heated debate last week.

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