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Zimbabwe seizes controlling stake in foreign mines

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HARARE, Zimbabwe >> Zimbabwe’s black empowerment minister says the state has taken majority ownership of all foreign-owned mining companies.

Saviour Kasukuwere said in a statement today all companies that did not meet a late 2011 deadline to submit proposals to cede a controlling stake to blacks have forfeited 51 percent of their shareholdings and are now “deemed to be owned by the state.”

Zimbabwe has large Australian, Canadian and South African mining interests — including giants Rio Tinto, Canadile and Anglo American — and scores of small white-owned gold mines.

The empowerment drive has split the shaky three-year-old coalition government. Critics says it has scared off much-needed investment and is being used as a political ploy ahead of elections President Robert Mugabe wants this year.

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