Alluvial diamond mining in Marange

Can lessons be borrowed from Global Financial Integrity’s Follow the Flow of Money tool used to influence effective management of public funds generated from the extractives to enhance transparency and accountability in the management of environmental funds?

Clearly, leveraging mineral wealth for broad based socio-economic development is a topical issue in Africa fueled by the African Mining Vision. Given the inherently destructive nature of mining, possible temerity to count mining benefits whilst discounting the costs is a major concern. Precisely the reason why some civil society voices are saying no to mining.

A sentiment echoed by the key note address delivered at the recently held 8th edition of the Alternative Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa, 06-08 February 2017.  Understandably, the AMV and the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) have called for a responsible mining sector through public disclosure of social and environmental data.

Emphasis on disclosure of mining costs to communities is gaining traction but yet to catch up with the momentum generated by initiatives to curb Illicit Financial Flows such as the Stop The Bleeding Campaign. Perhaps, this is an opportunity to borrow from Follow the Flow of Money tool harnessed to accountable management of public funds generated from extractives, from revenues, to budgets, to expenditures and results.

This entails promotion of community participation in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), budgeting of social and environmental obligations of mining companies, tracking the payments and expenditures on environment rehabilitation and mine closure as well as the results.

Whilst focus on community participation in EIAs has gained traction in Zimbabwe, for instance, Shurugwi community successfully demanded participation in Unki Mine’s EIAs for the smelting plant in 2015, focus on tracking the flow of money in EAIs remains the blind side.

The Environment Management Agency has revealed that there is a loophole concerning the flow of money in EIAs as the social and environmental costs are not independently verified. In turn, risk management is poor in the award of EIA certificates.  Mining companies with no capacity to meet their social and environmental costs might end up getting EIA certificates.

There is also a collateral risks of skewed assessment of socio-economic benefits of mining such as taxes, employment, community enterprise development and corporate social investments without a clear picture of the social and environmental costs involved.