Oxfam Calls on Mali and Gold Mining Companies to Open Their Books

Friday, February 02, 2007 :: infoZine Staff :: page views

WorldGold has surpassed cotton as main export, transparency in disclosing mining revenues missing

Bamako – infoZine – Mali’s gold exports have more than tripled in the last decade yet its citizens have so far seen little benefit from mining revenues, reported international relief and development organization Oxfam America today in its latest report, Hidden Treasure? In search of Mali’s gold-mining revenues. Today’s report launch in Bamako is part of a two-day workshop led by Oxfam and Malian organization Sahel Development Foundation on issues of gold mining and revenue transparency. The workshop is being carried out in coordination with the global Publish What You Pay Campaign.”Gold has become the cornerstone of the Malian economy,” said Mamadou Biteye, regional director for Oxfam America. “But a country prioritizing gold mining, and the mining companies operating there, must be transparent and demonstrate to the country’s citizens how they will actually benefit from the boom.”

Mali is currently the third largest exporter of gold in Africa, behind world’s largest exporter, South Africa, and Ghana. “Gold exports from Mali more than tripled between 1996 and 2002, going from 18% to 65.4% of total exports,” said Keith Slack, senior policy advisor for Oxfam America. “Yet Mali has remained at the bottom of the United Nation’s Human Development Index, ranking 175 out of 177 countries in 2006.”

The laws and regulations that constitute Mali’s Mining Code have created a complex set of taxes, fees, and license charges that are effectively incomprehensible to those without some technical background. Mali’s low literacy rate, poor physical infrastructure, and inadequate electronic communications combine to make it nearly impossible for citizens to get clear and complete information about revenues and how they are spent to benefit the public.

“80% of Malians continue to live below the poverty line.” said Tiémoko Sangaré, executive secretary of the Sahel Development Foundation, an Oxfam America partner. “Yet gold has gone from accounting for 2.9% of our country’s gross domestic product in 2002 to 12.7% of in 2004. Where are the profits going?”

In its latest report Oxfam outlines several recommendations for increasing transparency in the gold mining sector in Mali. Recommendations geared at entities such as the World Bank, mining companies and the Government of Mali include:

* Mali’s Mining Code should require both the government and mining companies to report publicly on benefit streams. The government should create opportunities for citizens to participate in decision-making processes in order to hold mining companies and elected officials accountable for appropriate distribution and use of mining revenues.
* World Bank funded projects must require that data about revenues received and expended be made public regularly. In addition, the World Bank needs to engage civil society and non-governmental organizations in the process it began in 2005 of revising the Malian mining code.
* The government of Mali should simplify its public reporting of information on tax revenues received from mining and the distribution of those revenues.
* The government of Mali should effectively engage with civil society on implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

http://www.infozine.com/news/stories/op/storiesView/sid/20690/