The piece “No to secret mining deals, Government committed to EITI process” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining Review Issue Number 25, May 2015.
Take a look at Eye on Malawi’s EITI column for more details on Malawi’s journey towards EITI candidacy and compliance.
The full edition of the Mining Review is available for download here.
To learn more about this quarterly publication, edited by Marcel Chimwala, read the post about the “Voice of the mineral sector in Malawi”.
No to secret mining deals
- Government committed to EITI process
By Chiku Jere
The Malawi Government has expressed its commitment to apply for the candidature of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) by June this year.
Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Honourable Bright Msaka SC, said when he presided over the opening ceremony of the National Consultative Workshop on the Draft Mines and Minerals Bill that the development is of utmost importance to ensure transparency and accountability in the administration of mineral rights and utilization of royalties and fees for the mineral sector.
Government is aware that issues of transparency and accountability in the administration of mineral rights and utilization of royalties and fees for the mineral sector are very important, that is why it is firmly committed to the EITI process,
said Msaka in his maiden address to stakeholders in the mining sector who gathered at the opening ceremony for the workshop.
The Minister said Government has already started taking all necessary steps to sign for membership to the EITI following President Arthur Peter Mutharika’s declaration in his State of the Nation Address last year.
Adherence to EITI guidelines will see detailed disclosure of tax payments, licences, contracts and production data, foster debate around the management of Malawi’s resources and ultimately ensure natural resources benefit all citizens.
According to information gathered from EITI International Secretariat website, http://www.eiti.org., EITI sets global standards for the governance of a country’s oil, gas and mineral resources, which are supposed to be implemented by governments, in collaboration with companies and civil society.
By signing to EITI, the country signals commitment to the transparent and accountable management of its natural resources, which, in the process, enhances citizens’ trust on government.
Through implementation of EITI, citizens benefit from receiving reliable information about their country’s natural resources, and the process helps to improve government systems as adherence to transparency and accountability is promoted.
Adherence to EITI Standard involves seven requirements that a country needs to fulfil and these include effective oversight by the multi-stakeholder group, timely publication of EITI reports, which include contextual information about the extractive industries; also a full government disclosure of extractive industry revenues, and disclosure of all material payments to government by oil, gas and mining companies.
A country pledging to adhere to the standards remains a “candidate” for two and a half years from the date of admission and the renewal of the candidature would depend on an independent evaluation on whether the country is deemed to have met and complied with the EITI requirements.
During the event, Hon Msaka also took time to commend all stakeholders for the constructive comments that the Ministry has been receiving throughout the review process of the Mines and Minerals Bill.
He also encouraged the participants to vigorously continue scrutinising the Draft Bill and pointing out the remaining gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies, in order to come up with a final and sound legal instrument that would fairly regulate the mineral sector for the mutual benefit of all players.
Your diligence, objectivity and patriotism will be most demanded in this process in order for our nation to address challenges identified in this industry,
The Minister also informed the gathering that his Ministry is taking bold steps to wholesomely build capacity in the mineral sector, including in research, under the Mining Governance and Growth Support Programme (MGGSP).
He said in collaboration with the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College and the Polytechnic as well as Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), Government intends to train more geologists, mining engineers, mineral processing engineers as well as metallurgists.
We will continue with capacity building programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels to strengthen the human resource capacity so that we meaningfully and efficiently manage sustainable development of the mineral sector,
Mining Law Consultant, James Otto, said at the workshop the proposed mining law will do away with concerns of secret mining deals raised by civil society groups.
Some of the salient progressive features of the Draft Bill include; the proposal for the creation of a Mineral Resources Committee that will ensure transparent and efficient issuance and administration of mineral tenements, likewise the promotion of local community engagement between the licence holder and the communities in the vicinity to the tenement.
The draft bill also shifts the collection of mineral royalties from the Ministry to Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) as well as provides for exploration companies to apply for a Retention Licence when some economic and technical factors do not permit the development of a mine where exploration has been done.