as global investors rush to safety. And some of the continent's economies -- eventhose most exposed to commodities -- are better off than they were in theaftermath of an earlier boom in the 1980s because of measures they took duringthe good years.In Botswana, DeBeers Group SA has suspended operations at a handful ofdiamond mines. But the country has socked away considerable foreign-exchangereserves, cushioning the blow. The boom lured energy companies to Ghana, inthe past seen as too risky for oil exploration. Production will begin there nextyear, opening a big new revenue stream, even at today's lower prices. Other sub-Saharan governments -- including Liberia, once seen as a desperate case --have tried to diversify their economies away from a single-commodity play.Zambia didn't. The country relies on copper sales for an estimated 70% ofgovernment revenue. Only last April, as copper prices were nearing their peak,did officials restructure antiquated tax laws to take better advantage of the boom.Copper prices have fallen to just under $4,000 a ton from their peak of just under$9,000 a ton last summer. With demand in the industrialized world falling not justfor copper, but also for other minerals and metals plentiful in Africa, miningcompanies across the continent have shut down operations.Canada-based Anvil Mining Ltd. suspended operations at its big copper mine,Dikulushi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo in December. Two months later,platinum producerLonminPLC suspended operations at its mine in Limpopo, innorthern South Africa.In the copper town of Luanshya, the mine, a Swiss-Israeli joint venture, fired all ofits 1,740 workers in January. While that's just a small slice of the town'spopulation of 120,000, mining money trickled down and fed most facets of theeconomy.Farmers sold produce to feed miners' families. Bars and restaurants popped up.
Brick makers couldn't bake bricks fast enough to keep up with the constructionboom. Minibuses motored shoppers around town.Miners in Luanshya -- some of whom had been making more than civil servants -- bought land and started building larger homes for their families. They took outloans to start up side businesses and sent their children to private schools. Theybought televisions and DVD players, and sent money across Zambia to familymembers in rural areas, who depended on the monthly assistance."People were in a jovial mood," says Chishimba Kambwili, a provincialrepresentative in the national parliament. "They had money. They could doanything."