Australian mining companies are now the third-largest group of miners in Africa. It would seem that many have been attracted as a result of the poor governance of its regimes. Martin Kavanagh, Director of Deep Yellow Resources, whose company is currently mining in Namibia, has said that the controls on mining are far more lenient in Africa than Australia and this is therefore the appeal of having interest in the continent. He stated, "There isn't the bureaucracy there that stifles Australia. Our view is that it would take eight to ten years to develop a mine in South Australia or Northern Territory, whereas you can do it in three to five years in Africa." (Morgan, E (2008) [Accessed 16 June]) In addition, Director of Australian uranium mining company, A Cap Resources, Dr Andrew Tunks defends mining practices in Africa. He claims that although mining companies may take advantage of the relaxed regulations in Africa, "it doesn't mean Australian companies are exploiting the continent." (Morgan, E (2008) [Accessed 16 June])
In a further article published in the Age newspaper, it was reported that there have been endless numbers of complaints in relation to Australian mining practices in Africa. (Hewett, A (2008) [Accessed 16 June]) These include environmental damage, involvement in human rights abuse and allegations of corruption. For example, members from a Congolese community are in the process of considering legal action against mining company Anvil after allegations of military suppression. Oxfam Australia has established a mining ombudsman in order to deal with community complaints, which at this point, often go unnoticed by both the mining companies and governments within the country they are mining. Oxfam has called for the Australian Government to establish its own ombudsman to ensure that mining companies are operating fairly in developing nations.
Alternatively, Stephen Smith has asserted that Australian mining companies 'enjoy a well-earned reputation for excellent safety records and high environmental standards.' At this point there is not enough well documented, credible evidence to support reports such as those mentioned above. The Australian government is no doubt benefiting from the mining boom so it is important that those residing in areas where resources are being extracted for our benefit and are not exploited and helping to fuel any kind of conflict as those mentioned above. Relations between communities and multi-national companies in nations where the mining of resources is occurring must keep their practices reputable and equal to Australian standards.
In conclusion, natural resources in Africa have proved to be instrumental
in causing, funding and prolonging conflict. Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the
Democratic Republic of Congo are just three examples explaining the
consequences of possessing vast amounts of natural resources. Finally, the
Australian Government must monitor Australian mining companies so that they do
not exploit the instability in this region to gain favorable arrangements for themselves
and their shareholders.
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