PERTH (miningweekly.com) − The Australia Africa Mining Industry Group (AAMIG) has set itself a number of milestones along the path to reaching its objective of the facilitation of public-private partnerships (PPPs) that will enable the Australian government to re-engage with the African continent.
The AAMIG was established in 2010 at the suggestion of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to lead Australia’s engagement with Africa, and to enhance the support for Australian companies operating in Africa.
AAMIG chairperson Bill Turner said on Thursday that one of the key benefits of establishing the AAMIG was to provide the Australian government with an available leverage into an African footprint, as well as delivering cost-effective programmes and support for companies with a strong vested interest.
“With that on-ground presence, AAMIG can assist the government’s capacity-building social development and diplomatic initiatives, provide relevant forums for interface with government agencies, help in dispute resolution, help manage crises, and provide intelligence in relation to in-country personal security issues.
“Recent reviews including that carried out by the Australian Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee, have found that, in addition to confirming the size of the Australian mining industry involvement in Africa, Australian resources companies in Africa have influence and impact that far outweighs the effects and presence of official and non-official development assistance,” Joyce said.
For mining companies, a PPP with government would provide a broader alliance delivering better results, and credibility in the financial and investment market, brought on by the backing of the company’s home government.
Despite the benefits that PPPs would offer, Turner noted that that there were several impediments including potential reputational risk issues and historic challenges in developing countries.
Turner said that AAMIG could assist in overcoming these impediments, as the mining industry’s understanding of issues have improved “dramatically” with hard-earned experience.
Looking at the period ahead, Turner noted that the AAMIG’s first order of business would be to create and adopt an agreed set of guidelines for member companies, after which a contact point would have to be appointed by the DFAT to establish a PPP working group.
Member companies would then start preparing educational, capacity-building and social development proposals for heads of mission support and AusAid support, and submit this documentation by December 2011.
Turner said that AAMIG’s involvement in Africa would be staged, and would initially be developed through its involvement in ten projects, across five countries, at a total investment of $300 000.
The target date for commitment of the Heads of Missions’ direct aid programme and AusAid has been set for the end of March 2012, with the implementation set to start in the second quarter of that year.