Mineral Governance Barometer: Southern Africa

Policy Brief


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University of Cape Town

Southern Africa is endowed with lucrative mineral resources such as diamonds, gold, copper, coal, platinum, and uranium. is rich endowment can be a major asset in the quest for inclusive and sustainable development, yet mining in Southern Africa has often been criticised as an enclave sector that at best contributes little to economic development and at worst does substantial social and environmental harm. To avoid such pitfalls emerging international consensus emphasises the importance of good mineral governance. is involves the adoption and implementation of regulatory frameworks that promote deeper linkages between the mining sector and the broader economy, and that protect people and the environment from the potentially harmful consequences of mineral extraction. This pilot study provides a barometer of mineral governance in ten Southern African countries: Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The barometer takes stock of mining regulations in place at the end of 2015, the extent to which they are implemented, and features of supporting institutions. It is based on the observation that while regulations impose obligations on mining companies, in doing so they directly impose obligations on the state to monitor and enforce compliance, and they also indirectly impose obligations for citizens and civil society to hold the state and mining companies accountable. The barometer includes indicators of mineral governance across four main issue-areas: national economic and fiscal linkages; community impact; labour, and the environment, with artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) treated as a special topic. The barometer also includes indicators of state capacity and state accountability with respect to mineral governance. Specialist researchers collected the data used to calculate the indicators in each country using a standardised research instrument. The in-country researchers collaborated in developing and re ning the instrument during two workshops. An important feature of the data set is that it consists of objective descriptions of patterns of regulation and implementation and of institutional arrangements, not on subjective value judgements. Researchers compiled information from publicly available, although not always easily accessible sources, to capture not only whether a particular regulation exists in a country, for example, but also whether the state has recently detected or penalised any company for failing to comply with regulations. Key findings can be summarised on three levels: the prevalence of regulations, the extent of monitoring and enforcement, and the importance of accountability. The prevalence of regulations varies substantially across countries but is generally high, with five of the ten countries having more than two-thirds of the regulations we looked for. The extent of monitoring and enforcement is considerably lower, with only patchy publicly-available evidence of states detecting and punishing non-compliance by mining companies. Accountability mechanisms that provide pluralistic fora for public participation emerge as the best predictors of monitoring and enforcement. Stated differently, government officials are less likely to overlook breaches by mining companies when the citizens and civil society are keeping track. The findings are also helpful in identifying gaps in what we call “regulatory presence” – a composite of regulations, monitoring, and enforcement. Regulatory presence is lower for economic/ scal linkages and community impact than it is for labour and environmental regulations. One interpretation is that labour and environmental regulations often apply by default across many sectors, while regulations about linkages and community impact are more specific to mineral extraction. A complementary interpretation is that civil society is often better organised around labour and environmental issues, while the affected constituencies in the other issue-areas are more likely to be sectorally fragmented (economic/fiscal linkages) or geographically isolated (community impact). National mineral governance scores differ in ways that in part reflect the size and importance of a country’s mining sector, but notable exceptions also emerge. The top four countries are well-known mining economies (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Zambia), however the scores of two other well-established mining economies (the DRC and Namibia) are noticeably lower (the DRC with many regulations but weak implementation, and Namibia with few regulations but a better record of implementing them). Lesotho and Swaziland, which have small mining sectors, had the lowest scores; however, the scores of the emerging mining economies of Madagascar and Malawi are noticeably higher, with Madagascar having the greatest regulatory presence on community impact and ASM, and Malawi scoring particularly well on environmental policies. The barometer provides an empirical baseline for describing mineral governance in the ten Southern African countries in the pilot study. Further research could extend this baseline to other countries and to the petroleum sector to facilitate a broader comparative and statistical analysis. The finding that accountability mechanisms are crucial suggests that further research is likely to more directly probe patterns of contestation across a range of key stakeholders from mining companies and the state to labour unions and civil society organisations. Information about stakeholder priorities and positions would help to identify areas of conflict and consensus and complement the descriptive indicators in the pilot study.