NGOs unconvinced over Mining for Development initiative

An Australian mineral management initiative is under fire for favouring corporate interests more than developing nations.

The $127 million dollar Mining for Development Initiative aimed to aid developing nations avoid gross mismanagement, corruption and environmental impact.

Countries like Nigeria have been worse for wear from their mineral assets, the ABC reported.   

The initiative was unveiled by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in October 2011.

But the director of NGO AidWatch Thulsi Narayanasamy said the initiative is ‘at best, an expensive exercise in corporate welfare’.

“Delivering direct financial and regulatory support to mining companies and indirect support through ‘green-washing’ these companies and rebranding their image as sustainable,” she said.

“There’s very few prospects of alleviating poverty and inequality in terms of the image that they’re perpetuating with mining being the solution for developing countries – which there’s very little evidence to demonstrate.”

But director general of AusAID Pete Baxter says AusAID is not joining hands with mining companies or funding their corporate social responsibility endeavours.

“We’re not doing this to help mining companies – they don’t need our help,” he said.

“What we’re doing is trying to help governments get the best result they can from their natural resources sector, and Australia is recognised internationally as a global leader in governance on natural resource industries.”

The developing world’s portion of mineral, petroleum and gas exports is accelerating, with 50 per cent of global trade coming from these countries.

This is up from 30 per cent in just 15 years, with 3.5 billion people living in poor nations with a major extractive industry.

But for them, the industry brings with it poverty, corruption, violence and environmental harm.

Oxfam Australia’s Mining Advocacy Advisory Serena Lilywhite wants the initiative to succeed but said the development facets continues to be the focus.

“It has the potential to help ensure citizens of resource-rich, but very poor, countries, do get a fair share of their natural resource wealth, and also help reduce their dependency on aid,” she said.

“So there is great potential.”

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