Chávez will nationalize Venezuelan gold industry

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez says he plans to give the government exclusive control over the nation’s gold mining industry to boost the country’s international reserves.

Speaking on state television Wednesday, Chávez said he will issue a decree in the coming days to nationalize operations currently under the control of private and foreign companies. Gold will be the latest sector in the Venezuelan economy to be put under state control by the socialist leader.

Venezuela has about $18 billion in gold reserves, but most of that amount, $11 billion, is held overseas. Chávez agreed last year to allow private gold miners to export as much as 50 percent of their output. But, in his latest remarks, Chávez said Venezuela cannot continue allowing its gold to be taken away, as he put it.

A Venezuelan opposition lawmaker said Tuesday the government is considering repatriating almost all of its gold reserves held abroad.

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