Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cuba encourages foreign investment in mining, alternative energy

Cuba encourages foreign investment in mining, alternative energy

The Cuban government is encouraging foreign companies to invest in
non-nickel mining and alternative energies on the island, official
business weekly Opciones said, citing the Centro de Promoción del
Comercio Exterior y la Inversión Extranjera de Cuba (CEPEC).

While nickel has evolved into the biggest export commodity over the past
15 years, Cuba is struggling to return most other mining activities to
levels before the fall of the Soviet Union. According to Opciones,
foreign investors are sought for high-risk contracts for surveying and
geological research in gold and silver, as well as copper, lead and zinc.

In one of the few non-nickel mining projects, state company Geominera
S.A. is in the process of reopening the El Cobre gold mine near Santiago
de Cuba, after a 10-year hiatus. The Oro-Barita project at El Cobre is
financed by Venezuela and the ALBA trade and integration agreement, and
part of a larger effort to restart gold mining at five locations on the

Other opportunities include renewable-energy generation using wind power
and biofuel from sugarcane bagasse, according to CEPEC.

Early this year, Havana Energy Ltd., a subsidiary of London-based
Esencia Group, signed agreements to invest in biomass electricity
projects on the island. Havana Energy agreed to form a joint venture
with Zerus S.A., a state company controlled by the Sugar Ministry, to
set up and operate a 30-mw power plant next to the Ciro Redondo sugar
mill in central Ciego de Ávila province. This pilot project could be
followed by four additional sugarcane bagasse-fueled power plants
throughout the island.

According to CEPEC, tourism, oil, mining and energy are on top of the
government's priority list for foreign investment.

CEPEC encourages joint ventures and other forms such as joint production
or service agreements and hotel management.

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