Australia Award participants visit the Kalgoorlie Super Pit. Photo: NGIS
Despite the global financial and economic crisis, Africa continues to experience a significant resource boom. Africa has around 30 per cent of global mineral reserves including some of the areas with the highest prospects for new mineral and energy resource discoveries. About two-thirds of African countries have mining activities underway; more than half the countries of Africa regard mining as an important economic activity and are producing minerals for an international market outside Africa; and there is still further potential in the sector. Most of these minerals are exported as ores, concentrates or metals without significant downstream processing to add value. Furthermore in a large number of Africa’s post-conflict countries – including South Sudan, Liberia and Ethiopia – sustainable long-term economic development rests largely on economic revitalisation and investment in profitable industries – including development of their mineral sectors.
A role for Australia
Australia has significant experience in both the practice and regulation of mining, and with its world-class experts and institutions, is able to provide a range of assistance to help African countries derive greater benefit from their mining sector.
Managing a booming mining sector has its challenges. The boom can be short-lived and the benefit limited unless there is appropriate and effective:
- financial management and macroeconomic planning
- environmental standards
- labour laws
- social responsibility standards.
Australia’s Mining for Development (M4D) program in Africa focuses on providing assistance to governments to help them manage and regulate their mining sectors more effectively and sustainably, responding to African Government requests to manage their resource wealth in ways that promote equitable and sustainable economic development. This area for support has been consistently raised as a development priority by a number of African development partners.
The support that Australia can offer is varied and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of individuals, organisations or countries, for example:
- improving governance by strengthening government capacity to manage and regulate the sector
- building sustainability through promoting effective environmental management and social responsibility in mining
- enabling development by building relevant technical capacity, supporting the development and delivery of effective training, and supporting sector-focused research
- supporting mining-affected communities to derive greater, direct benefits through increased economic and livelihoods opportunities
- utilising public–private partnerships to work with, and access expertise from, the mining industry, government agencies, academia and civil society in addressing governance and capacity issues.
Australia’s bilateral engagement approach for M4D in Africa has included:
- targeted technical assistance, including in infrastructure planning, legal assistance and reform to taxation, mining regulation and the TVET sector
- Australia Awards, including Masters scholarships and short professional development courses, in mining-related areas
- study tours to Australia to raise awareness and build understanding and networks to help address mining-related issues (445 officials from 33 African countries have participated in 15 mining governance study tours in Australia and Africa between 2011 and 2012)
- other multi-country activities, including partnering with the World Bank to improve mineral taxation administration and transparency; and for regional approaches in implementing local procurement policies. Australian Aid also partnered with Australian and African training providers (Skills DMC and Bigen Africa) to deliver an 18-month pilot vocational learning program on infrastructure development.
Support for the African Mining Vision
The African Mining Vision (AMV) is an initiative adopted by African Union (AU) member states in 2009 to improve the development and social impact of mining. Australia has subsequently supported the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in establishing the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC) to work towards the realisation of the AMV. This African-led, regional approach is central to our assistance. Other bilateral donors have since announced their own support for the Centre.
Support to the African Mineral Skills Initiative and skills development
A common theme of consultations and feedback from governments in Africa has been the importance of building the skills needed to improve sector management and to help improve local employment opportunities in the mining industry.
The African Mineral Skills Initiative was announced as a partnership between AngloGold Ashanti and UNECA in October 2012. It will help address skills gaps by promoting greater and more effective skills development partnerships between governments, industry, communities, teaching institutions and donors. Australia is currently supporting program development and considering options for funding.
Australian Development Research Awards Scheme (ADRAS)
In 2013 Australian Aid provided funding for 5 ADRAs exploring various aspects of M4D in Africa, including leveraging infrastructure investments for broad economic development, environmental risk mitigation, human rights and agricultural linkages.
Australia has also supported the IMF African Regional Technical Assistance Centres which support capacity building work focussed on macroeconomic and financial management, a key issue for resource-rich countries. Funding is divided between centres based in East, South, Central and West Africa.
A range of initiatives also complement our M4D assistance in Africa. These include contributions to the:
- Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)
- Extractive Industries Technical Advisory Facility
- IMF Topical Trust Fund on Managing Natural Resource Wealth
- Natural Resource Charter
- International Mining for Development Centre