Mining groups have found lorry-loads of trouble over tax and ownership rules

These should be the best of times for the big miners. The global economy is booming, demand for the minerals they dig up is high and even a lack of investment in new production is helping to push up prices. Yet instead of watching the profits roll in, the industry’s giants are having to fight for them.

In a series of disputes that reverberate all the way back to the City and from there to millions of British investors and pension-holders, national governments are taking on the multinationals.

According to Paul Collier, a development economist and author of The Bottom Billion, governments are trying to replenish their coffers after the price slump of 2014 and 2015. Morever, he added: “The bad behaviour of many companies…