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Name and shame corrupt mining companies, urges Aid Chief

Mr. Erik Solheim

Mr. Erik Solheim

The 2013 Mining for Development Conference closed today in Sydney, Australia, with speaker after speaker emphasising the role of good political and business leadership in the sustainable exploitation of natural resources.

While speaking on the final day of the two-day event, the Chairman of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Erik Solheim, told delegates that bad governance was the main reason why some countries remained under developed, despite possessing vast amounts of mineral wealth.

“Good governance is basically about leadership. Where the leaders of the land are the most corrupt persons, it is hard, very hard indeed, to build governance. You cannot solve problems when the top is very rotten,” he observed.

He singled out one manifestation of the problem as “political leadership that can tap the natural resources pot for their own purposes, to enrich themselves or smooth their political machines.”

Mr. Solheim also called for ethical business practices by mineral companies if resource rich countries are to derive the maximum benefits from their wealth.

“(Late) Laurent Kabila (the former president of DRC) once said that what you need to start a revolution in Congo is 10,000 dollars and a mobile phone. You use the 10,000 dollars to raise an army to take the nearest mine and you use the mobile phone to call a mining company to sell the proceeds of that mine. You get more profits and expand (to capture power),” he told an amused audience.

“We should name and shame those companies involved in such transactions,” he urged.

German Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Gudrun Kopp, also called on the mining companies to ensure that there is transparency in their transactions with governments.

“The European Union (EU) and United States are making joint efforts to level the international playing field for companies,” she said.

“The private sector must play its part in ensuring that human rights are respected, that sustainable development policy and corporate social responsibility are natural allies in our attempts to promote a decent future,” she added.

Organised by the Australian Government-funded International Mining for Development Centre (IM4DC), the conference brought together many internationally-recognised commentators from government, academia, civil society, the extractives sector and development partners.

Its theme was ‘maximising benefits for communities’, focussing on how mineral-rich developing countries can be supported to reduce poverty and maximise the benefits accruing from the extraction of their mineral resources.

Uganda’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Hon. Irene Muloni, had been listed as one of the key note speakers, but did not turn up.

Report by Chris Musiime