CAPE TOWN (miningweekly.com) – Nineteen mining companies, one of them China-linked, on Tuesday agreed to use their combined influence to reduce poverty and foster development.
All members of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the 19 said at the Mining Indaba that they had also chosen to prioritise revenue management, regional development planning, local content, social investment and dispute resolution.
The companies are African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, Barrick, BHP Billiton, Freeport-McMoRan, GoldCorp, Gold Fields, Lihir Gold, Lonmin, Mitsubishi Materials, the China-linked MMG, Newmont, Nippon Mining, Rio Tinto, Sumitomo Metal, Teck, Vale and Xstrata.
AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani, jointly chairing a media conference with Ghana's Natural Resources Minister Alhaji Dauda, called on governments, donors and civil society to work with the ICMM members to improve the social outcomes of mining investments.
"Without mining, Africa won't be able to deliver the sort of society we hope to see across the continent," Cutifani said.
The ICMM members would share best practice: "The 19 companies have committed to being partners throughout Africa and the rest of the world," Cutifani added.
Ghana Minerals Commission CEO Benjamin Aryee said in reply to a Mining Weekly Online question that governments also had the role of ensuring that fiscal regimes were introduced so that the benefits derived from mining were appropriately shared in an equitable manner.
Aryee added that governments ought to ensure that the equitable share received from mining benefited society at large, as well as put policies in place that fostered good governance and promoted an enabling environment for mining investment.
"Governments should take the lead appropriately so that the mining industry is able to fit into the plans of government," Aryee added.
Unctad economic affairs officer Dan Day-Robinson said that mining was able to contribute hugely to the development of countries, which was why Unctad had been involved with ICMM from its inception
"We're very anxious that mining can be shown to bring jobs and micro enterprises for disadvantaged groups in developing countries," Day-Robinson said, adding that it was necessary to use the "scatter gun" approach in "shooting the poverty curse".
Partnerships involving companies, governments, donors and civil society had been found to be powerful in tackling development challenges, ICMM's Katryn McPhail said.
Moreover, a five-year ICMM/Unctad/World Bank study had demonstrated that good governance was the key to resource-curse avoidance.
Of 33 countries studied, half had escaped the resource curse because of good governance, and it was those countries that would benefit most from the ICMM partnership.
Transparency was also found to be key in a Commonwealth Secretariat study on how mineral taxation regimes should be designed.
ICMM members were supporters of the extractive industries' transparency initiative to show what taxes mining companies were paying to governments and what those governments were receiving.
It was raised from the floor that one African country had received only a million dollars in tax revenue in ten years.
The point was also made from the floor that governments in many mineral-rich African countries were often weak and that mining companies often negotiated untransparent agreement to the detriment of communities.