Philadelphia, PA USA – Transparency International (TI), an organization dedicated to the global coalition against corruption, in a just released report entitled Combatting Corruption in Mining Approvals: Assessing the Risks in 18 Resource-Rich Nations details how corruption can get a foothold in mining approvals processes before ground is even broken.
TI defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain” and furthers adds that this recognizes that all actors in the mining approvals process – not just government officials-have the potential to engage in corrupt conduct.
TI, in its report, also listed examples from a range of diverse countries and identities including some in Africa, important roles for government, the mining industry and civil society to identify, prevent and mitigate these risks.
In order to understand and identify the corruption risks in the mining sector of the countries examined, TI urged the following questions be asked:
- Who benefits from mining approval decisions?
- How ethical and fair is the process for opening land to mining?
- How fair and transparent is the licensing process?
- Who get the right to mine?
- How accountable are companies for their environmental and social impacts and
- How meaning is community consultations? The 102 page report, TI utilized what it refers to as the Mining Award Corruption Risk Assessment (MACRA) tool which undertakes a rigorous and consistent approach to identifying and assessing corruption risks in various contexts.
- The steps in the tool include:
- Defining the assessment
- Mapping the approvals process and practice and identifying vulnerabilities
- Analyzing the approvals context and identifying vulnerabilities
- Determining priority corruption risks for action and
- Assessing corruption risks and validation of the assessment.
The TI report details the top seven risks from the MACRA tool and standings of some African countries which undertook risk assessments.
- What is the risk that community leaders negotiating with a mining company will not represent community members’ interest? Kenya, South African and Zimbabwe were listed a “very high” in the report.
- What is the risk that mining laws have been, or will be, if reform is planned, written to favor private interests before the public interest? Zimbabwe was listed as “very high” while Liberia was assessed as part of a group of risks.
- Assuming consultation with communities or land holders is required, what is the risk that negotiations for landholders or community agreements can be manipulated? Kenya and Sierra Leone were listed as “very high”.
- What is the risk that criteria for awarding licenses, etc will not be publicly knowable? Kenya, South Africa and Sierra Leone were listed as “very high”.
- What is the risk that applicants for licenses, etc will be controlled by undeclared beneficial owners? Zambia and Zimbabwe were rated as “very high” while Kenya was assessed as part of a group of risks.
- What is the risk that, in practice, that there is no due diligence on applicants claims regarding their capacity and financial resources? Kenya, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe were listed as “very high”.
TI is urging governments, civil society and industries around the world to ask the following questions in their own countries, utilize their own examples and context to better understand the risks in their own context to building corruption- free mining processes.
|Political and administrative context||1. Who benefits from mining approval decisions?||Corruption is more likely to occur when:
|Land allocation||2. How ethical and fair is the process for opening land to mining?||Corruption is more likely to occur when:
|Mining licence application and approval||3. How fair and transparent is the licencing process?||Corruption is more likely to occur when:
|Environmental and social impact assessment||4. Who gets the right to mine?||Corruption is more likely to occur when:
|5. How accountable are companies for their environmental and social impacts?||Corruption is more likely to occur when:
|Community consultation||6. How meaningful is community consultation?||Corruption is more likely to occur when:
Some of the African countries listed in the TI report are taking steps to mitigate corruption risks as it relates to the land and mining sector.
Kenya has recently taken steps to protect customary land rights. South Africa has been working to streamline its mining approval process but not without some lingering bureaucratic hurdles. Zimbabwe is moving to install an online presence to ensure accuracy and ease of application in the mining sector.
Zambia has opportunities to de-politicize the mining committee to avoid undue influence and abuse from political appointees as is the case presently. Sierra Leone, in spite of legal requirements for the mining sector, has weak enforcement regimes which must be strengthened and include implementation of the Community Development Agreements which benefit local communities. Presently, the country’s National Minerals Agency is taking steps to be more transparent and is not publishing contracts on a dedicated website.
TI says governments, mining industries, the public must first understand the sources of corruption and then implement effective solutions and mitigating measures.
“Countries with robust approvals regimes can attract higher quality investments from major players who avoid corruption-prone jurisdictions, improve economic returns to their citizens and reduce rates of social conflict around mining projects,” the global corruption watchdog organization says.
By Emmanuel Abalo
West African Journal Magazine