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Mining companies' excitement over Africa is being cooled by fresh five-year lows in commodity prices – resulting in cuts to investment in even the most resource-rich countries.When the commodities supercycle was in full swing, Africa was a frontier of choice, offering investors some of the best but least-explored mineral resources.Although Africa is not exclusively at risk from falling commodities prices, many of its flagship projects – such as Simandou, the Guinean iron ore resource – require significant infrastructure investment, which is unlikely in the current environment.Rajat Kohli, global head of mining and metals at Standard Bank in London, says Africa accounted for 10 per cent of total mining mergers and acquisitions in 2010, but estimates this has dropped back to about 3.5 per cent. While the continent's share of global mining exploration dollars remained stable last year at about 16 per cent, miners' exploration budgets for the continent fell by half to $1.7bn, according to SNL Financial, a data provider.Investment from state-backed Chinese miners, which was a big part of the African boom, has also faded.
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