African Mining Indaba 2014 implored to resolve Continent’s ‘Crunching’ Problems

The 20th International Mining Indaba should endeavor to resolve various challenges besieging countries with mineral wealth, Zambia inclusive, to benefit the people, says British Charity, Oxfam.

Keith Slack, Oxfam Global Program Manager for Oxfam America’s Extractive Industries team wrote his visions ahead of the conference which goes underway Cape Town, South Africa from February 3-6 noted.

He stressed the need for lasting solutions to be found for countries with vast mineral potential but whose people are facing crunching poverty amidst plenty.

The mining indaba to be held under the theme “Investment opportunities in South Africa’s mining” will tackle issues ranging from exploration to value addition.

More than 8, 000 individuals from over 100 countries, representing about 1, 500 international companies, will attend the Indaba all looking for a global perspective on African mining industry.

Among Core issues expected to be addressed is the need to assist Africa countries find ways to capture more added-value from the raw mineral endowed with.

Africa, Slack notes, will never develop based on the export of raw ores alone but with an inclusion of  adding  value or “beneficiation” to the people that will assist in helping economies grow and move up the economic ladder.

“Value-adding industries create down-stream and spin-off activities that, in turn, create higher-paying jobs leading to development,” Slack noted.

“The problem is that it is extremely difficult for countries to develop high-value industries in the face of intense global competition.”

He cites Zambia, Africa’s top copper producer as being hard-pressed to create a copper processing industry because of cost competition from China and that the same could be said for gold and bauxite smelting and diamond polishing.

Other countries already do these things cost-effectively, so there is no incentive to invest in African countries’ ability to do so, as cited in the 2013’s African Progress Panel report “Equity in Extractives.

Slack urged delegates to further exert their energies in ensuring that African countries assert their rights to keep more of the profits from their own resources.

“The continent is riddled with woefully bad deals negotiated between mining companies and governments who either didn’t know any better or didn’t care.”

“ Abusive transfer pricing, in which companies shift profits out of Africa in order to avoid taxes, is a loathsome tactic that cheats poor African countries out of tens of billions of dollars every year.”

Recent reports argue that the Zambian government estimates losing $2 billion per year in revenues due to tax avoidance. Some countries have begun to try to claw back some of what they lost, which has opened them to the charge of “resource nationalism.” Slack argues.

Another argument is that Niger’s current negotiations with French uranium conglomerate Areva, in which Niger is seeking a greater take of uranium revenues.

There is need for added progress in the mining industry’s corporate social responsibility practices to benefit the local people in which they operate.

Progress has been made in recent years on key issues like free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and transparency. (In a positive step, earlier this month two Canadian mining associations, he stated in his analysis ahead of the Indaba.

The Mining Association of Canada and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, announced recently the need for support for mandatory payment disclosure.

However, it has emerged that despite observations by the Human Rights Watch, the United Kingdom-based civil rights group, giant companies Vale and Rio Tinto in Mozambique have not been effectively responsive to the needs of the communities where mining activities take place.

Slack argues that companies, both members of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), were accused of shoddy relocation processes for thousands of poor Mozambicans amounting to human rights violations.

That kind of situation simply must not occur anymore, especially with big, modern companies like Rio Tinto and Vale. It is imperative for mining companies to publicly support the expansion of mandatory reporting requirements into key mining jurisdictions like the case of South Africa and Australia.

“It’s time for companies to apply corporate social responsibility principles to their fiscal practices as well, making deal-making and contracting fully transparent,”

There is compelling need for the political dynamics around resource revenue management to be addressed for all stakeholders to have a ‘win-win’ situation.

The mining companies should instead ensure strict compliance with global anti-corruption regulations.

Donor governments, international financial institutions, and non-governmental organizations can support effective citizen oversight of revenue management by strengthening public participation and citizen voice.

It is imperative for mining companies in Ghana to support the creation of formal oversight mechanisms through the country and assist strengthen government environmental and human rights agencies vis-à-vis powerful mining and energy ministries.

Slack previously worked for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights in DC and Catholic Relief Services in Peru. He has published articles in Ethics and International Affairs, Human Rights Quarterly and the Los Angeles Times.

The annual mining indaba which has attracted once again, global mining industry, government officials and representatives from international financial institutions will gather in Cape Town, South Africa over the next four-days.

It is anticipated that during the conference, there will be a lot of synergies as well as seeking to resolve key problems afflicting African countries despite the continent’s abundant resources.

It is envisaged that with the vast number of mining experts and other  players in the mining and copper industry converging in Cape Town will address various issues affecting the continent of  Africa is to “cleanse itself of the  resource curse.”

During the Indaba various worlds’ leading experts on African mining, international mining analysts and government leaders will be given an opportunity to participate in this year’s Mining Indaba.

During the Indaba, the Departments of Mineral Resources, Trade and Industry, Science and Technology and Brand South Africa will host, amongst other programmes, exhibitions.

There will also be a number of discussions by experts including hosting investment promotion workshops.

The Indaba has been attracting mining analysts, fund managers, investment specialists and financiers from around the world for nearly 20 years.

The Indaba is the world’s largest mining investment conference, the world’s third largest mining conference, and Africa’s largest mining event. It attracts the most influential stakeholders and decision-makers vested in African mining.

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