CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday said his country struck a $4.5 billion mining deal with U.S., Canadian and South African companies while up to $20 billion in contracts loom.
The mining will occur near the Orinoco river in an area Maduro has called the "Mining Arc of the Orinoco," believed to host reserves of gold, diamonds and Coltan, which is used to produce tantalum.
During his weekly Contact with Maduro televised address, Maduro said mining contracts worth up to $20 billion would be signed "in the coming days."
Venezuela, heavily reliant on the oil trade, is attempting to diversify its economy by investing more into mining. The South American country is facing a deepening economic crisis in which basic goods, such as food, medicines and toiletries, are in short supply or unaffordable. Tens of thousands have traveled outside the country, mainly to Colombia, to restock supplies as store shelves and kitchen cupboards are nearly empty.
Maduro's Tuesday address can be seen below in its entirety.