A while back, the Venezuelan Government signed a puzzling agreement with Chinese company CITIC to do a mining survey of all of Venezuela. Puzzling for a variety of reasons, including the fact that CITIC is at the end of the day an investment company, which was simply going to use the resources of the Chinese Government and academia to develop the project. But it was also puzzling, because of the price tag of US$ 600 million. US$ 600 million is an Apollo-size project in the context of Venezuelan science and technology, more so, for something that has essentially been done already, without the aid of the Chinese or the Americans for that matter. In fact, CVG, Tecmin, National Universities and the National Institute for Geology and Mining already have a digitized database. In the 80’s, when I used to work in related fields, I recall being given maps of where you could find Niobium and Tantalum in Venezuela, not exactly the most precious of minerals.
But even more puzzling is that the National Assembly has not approved the contract. You see, minerals and mining are considered to be of public utility and according to that piece of paper called the Constitution, contracts relating to it have to be approved by the National Assembly. But even more puzzling, the job that Citic was hired to do, is the mandate for the National Institute of Geology and Mining, Ingeomin, which according to the law has as on of its main purposes: “To create and maintain the inventory of the mineral resources of the country” among many other functions. And US$ 600 million is over 100 times the yearly budget of Ingeomin, which has yet to be contacted for the project.
And that is the biggest puzzle. The project supposedly has been mostly paid for. the work should have been started, Venezuelans trained, etc. But nobody has been trained, no camps as those shown in the map above (Xeroxed in a copy machine with a bent surfaced?) have been established. In fact, according to Deputy Americo de Grazia “The Chinese are doing absolutely nothing in Venezuela…but they are getting paid”
The Deputy even wonders if the Chinese ever meant to do anything, except get paid. With the available information and the digitized maps available in Venezuela and a couple of trips by technicians, you could “update” the information and that would be it. Hand it it, get paid US$ 600 million.
Another boondoggle by the revolution. More money thrown out the window, or down the toilet. Chavismo has a strange concept of sovereignty and a total lack of respect for local knowledge.
And, of course, the National Assembly refuses to hear the complaint that the contract should have been approved in that body. The Chinese may get mad…