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End of 2013!

It feels like we say this every December, but 2013 really has been a jam-packed year. Why not check out our slideshow to find out more about what happened in 2013?

We’ll be taking a break as of 20th December, but we’ll be back, refreshed and ready to take on 2014, on 2nd January. Thanks for your support in 2013 and we look forward to another year in the battle for natural resources to benefit all citizens!

Chain for change now online!

Some of you may have seen our chain for changes at various events – from their launch at our ten year anniversary conference to a coalition meeting in DRC. This chain is now online and you can explore it here.

Why did we create another extractive value chain? During the consultation process for our new strategy , many members voiced their desire for PWYP to create its own value chain – one created from the point of view of civil society and for civil society.

After desk research we drafted our first version of the value chain, which soon came to be called – after a morning which may have involved too much coffee – the ‘chain for change’. We then presented this chain to our members for their thoughts and comments, not only via email but in dedicated sessions during our strategic consultations, from N’djamena to Almaty.

Our final chain has been circulating in print, but is now available online. It spans the extractive process from finding out what natural resources you have to what to do once the dust has settled. The chain for change has become the basis for our strategic framework. While no member will work on every  step of the chain our coalition as a whole spans the chain so that – thanks to more transparency and better accountability – natural resources can benefit women, men and youth in resource-rich countries.

Norway adopts extractive transparency legislation

Photo by ataelw from Flickr Creative Commons.

The push for global extractive transparency was bolstered this month, as Norway adopted legislation that will oblige Norwegian extractive companies to publish their payments to the governments where they operate. There will be no exemptions to disclosure and its  provisions are expected to match those of the EU accounting directive adopted in  June.

Norwegian civil society, including PWYP Norway, will play an important role over the coming months to further shape the legislation. You can read PWYP Norway’s press release here.

Members of Publish What You Pay, including our PWYP Uganda coordinator, talk here about how this law will help resource-rich countries.

The decision to mine - what’s transparency got to do with it?

Photo by Loi Manalansan.

Communities across the Philippines are not being given their say over whether extraction should take place. A lack of transparency and a lack of information mean they are not told of the negative consequences of mining, nor can they easily seek compensation once mining has started.

Bantay Kita, PWYP's affiliated coalition in the Philippines, wants to change this. They campaign for more transparency and accountability in the extractive sector so that communities can be empowered and informed.

In this video we show you a snapshot of Bantay Kita’s work, and why transparency in the Filipino extractive sector is so crucial.

Australian presidency of G20 an opportunity to increase extractive transparency

Australia’s presidency of the G20 throughout 2014 is an opportunity for the country to have an influence over global economic policies and contribute to healthier economies around the world. In particular, by addressing extractive industry transparency Australia could help change the lives of millions.

Such key changes are already being made – the US and the EU have for instance introduced laws to oblige extractive companies to publish what they pay to the governments in which they operate. Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, pledged last June to introduce mandatory reporting rules for its companies.

Yet this push needs to be made truly global. Australia, with its mining companies operating around the world and its presidency of the G20, has a crucial role to play. In implementing mandatory disclosure rules, Australia would cement the growing global adoption of transparency rules as well as level the playing field for companies. Australia should also make extractives transparency a key theme in its presidency, encouraging the G20 countries that have yet to implement mandatory disclosure rules to do so.

As Claire Spoors from PWYP Australia stated, “We call on Australia to seize this opportunity to push for increased transparency in the extractives sector. As a huge player in the mining industry, Australia has a responsibility to ensure that the extractive sector benefits, rather than harms, citizens in resource-rich countries. This is Australia’s chance to change the lives of millions”.

PWYP-Canada visit to Tanzania and Zimbabwe

Thanks to Kady Seguin from PWYP Canada for contributing this piece.

In November, PWYP-Canada travelled to Dar es Salaam and Harare to facilitate two very successful workshops. Workshop participants learned about the type of information extractives companies make public in their home countries, such as Canada, while also examining how to access that information and developing hands-on techniques for incorporating it into their work in-country. In addition, the workshop looked at emerging transparency standards and the type of information that will become available. 

The workshops were hosted locally by partner organizations, Oxfam in Tanzania and the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyer’s Association (ZELA) in Zimbabwe, and were attended by an enthusiastic multi-stakeholder group of participants, spanning from journalists, academics and civil society activists, to government representatives and donors. Participants had the opportunity to learn in greater detail about the ongoing PWYP mandatory disclosure campaign, the elements of emerging transparency standards like the EU Transparency and Accounting Directives, as well as how they can find information on extractive companies through securities disclosure documents and other types of public reporting. Participants examined concrete examples from companies operating in their countries, including information on payments made to governments, licenses and contracts, as well as corporate structures. For example, in Zimbabwe, participants learn that one company, New Dawn Mining, had disclosed payments to the Zimbabwean government in documents submitted to Canadian regulators.

Participants in the workshop were very surprised to learn the interesting and useful information that can be found buried deep in company documents, all of which can help to inform their respective areas of work. The workshops were part of PWYP-Canada’s Capacity Building Programme, launched in January 2011, which seeks to support coalition members in accessing information on extractive companies. The workshops were supported by PWYP-Canada’s host organization, Partnership Africa Canada, through a grant from Irish Aid.

AREVA determined to continue in its pillage of natural resources

As you will have seen from previous blogs, Niger and AREVA are currently renegotiating the contracts over uranium extraction in the country. It is an historic opportunity for Niger to finally get a fair deal for its resources. For years, AREVA has benefited from a hugely favourable deal, to the detriment of Niger’s citizens. According to a report by PWYP Niger/ROTAB and Oxfam France, in 2010 AREVA’s two mines, Somaïr and Cominak extracted uranium to the value of more than 3.5 billion euros. The share for Niger and its citizens was 459 million euros, only 13% of the total value.

Yet AREVA, an EITI supporting company, has pushed back on attempts to change the content of the agreements, resorting to strong-arming tactics and threatening on a number of occasions to shut down its mines in the country.

It isn’t simply a question of AREVA trying to negotiate the best deal for itself. A company seeking to exploit one of the world’s poorest countries in order to enrich itself is, although morally bankrupt, hardly surprising. However, AREVA is refusing to accept Niger’s sovereign laws – stating that the Mining Code of 2006 should not apply to its operations. It invokes a stability clause it signed (in its previous form, the CEA) in 1968 that was to last for 75 years.

AREVA insists it should be exempt from extra charges until 2043. To give an idea of what kind of loss that would be to Niger – where 60% of citizens live on less than a dollar a day – in 2013 AREVA’s tax exemptions meant the Nigerien government lost out on 320 million euros. 

This attitude is a blow to the principles of the Africa Mining Vision and the Niger constitution. Publish What You Pay Niger issued a communiqué  detailing this unacceptable situation to the African Union conference of ministers who met in Maputo this week. It was the 3rd conference of ministers responsible for mineral resources development with the timely theme, ‘Leveraging the Africa Mining Vision for Africa’s Renaissance towards broader ownership.’

For more information about PWYP Niger’s campaign, visit our site.