This article examines the response of American Metal Climax Inc. (AMAX), the major shareholder in Roan Selection Trust (RST), to the Zambian government’s decision to take a majority stake in both of the two major mining companies on the Copperbelt. In doing so, it demonstrates that AMAX executives failed to anticipate the possibility of nationalisation prior to Kaunda’s Matero speech in 1969. It explores how AMAX initially sought to place pressure on the Zambian government through the American State Department, before changing tack to limit their own exposure at the expense of other RST shareholders. The article suggests that explanations of neo-colonialism surrounding the relationship between multinational business and independent African states do not fit comfortably with the nationalisation of the Zambian copper industry.
keywords: copper mining, zambia, amax, nationalisation, neo-colonialism