Impact of Australian mining companies African mining boom laid barePublished by MAC on 2015-07-11
The ICIJ (the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) has just published an impressive multi-part investigation of the "footprint" of Australian mining companies in Africa. It's well worth paying attention to, not only for the terrible wrongs being exposed, but also because Australian companies are competing hard with many others (particularly Canadian companies) over who can provide the strongest, most uncritical, and most generous support for 'their' mining companies while placing the least possible demands on them for accountability of any kind -- and pushing African governments into more pliant roles.
Fatal Extraction: Australian Mining's Damaging Push Into Africa
- Since the beginning of 2004, more than 380 people have died in mining accidents or in off-site skirmishes connected to Australian publicly-traded mining companies in 13 countries in Africa.
- Australian mining companies are more numerous than those from other mining giants such as Canada, the United Kingdom and China. At the end of 2014, more than 150 companies held about 1500 licenses and owned or managed dozens of mining operations across 33 countries in Africa.
- Multiple Australian mining companies are accused of negligence, unfair dismissal, violence and environmental law-breaking across Africa, according to legal filings and community petitions gathered from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana.
- Australian state and federal government entities, including government workers’ pension funds, have invested in controversial Australian mining companies operating in Africa.
More is copied below, but can be viewed at:- http://www.icij.org/project/fatal-extraction
New project shines light on impact of African mining boom
By The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists - http://www.icij.org/blog/2015/07/new-project-shines-light-impact-african-mining-boom
10 July 2015
A major new regional investigation by ICIJ, its parent organization the Center for Public Integrity, African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR), and more than a dozen African journalists has for the first time revealed in detail the vast - and in some cases deadly - footprint Australian mining companies are leaving across Africa.
One of the biggest collaborations of journalists across the continent and ICIJ’s first major Africa-based project, Fatal Extraction shines a light on how Australian-listed mining companies are linked to hundreds of deaths and alleged injustices which wouldn’t be tolerated in better-regulated nations.
The 18-month investigation has brought together data and records from Australia and Africa in a way that hasn’t been done before, combining corporate information from the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) with months of work by reporters around Africa, digging through dusty public documents and finding victims and witnesses who have never spoken to media before.
The findings of the investigation draw a more comprehensive picture of Australia’s significant mining presence in Africa and how the industry impacts people in ways that are rarely heard outside their own communities.
The project includes print, online, radio and multimedia news organizations from the United States, Australia, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. Reporters traveled thousands of miles to remote mine sites and obtained exclusive documents outlining government investigations, court filings and community petitions.
“Australia is one of the largest players in African mining but, until now and unlike companies from Canada and China, its track record has gone largely unnoticed,” said ICIJ lead reporter Will Fitzgibbon. “We hope our reporting will give voice to those affected by mining but whose stories rarely make it back to Australian boardrooms and shareholders.”
“Fatal Extraction is commendable for its rigorous reporting on a corporate nationality that has, as a collective study, been less visible on Africa's radar,” says Khadija Sharife from ANCIR, which provided financial and editorial services to many of ICIJ’s reporting partners.
“The result [is] talented African journalists taking center stage and representing their own investigations in equal partnership with ICIJ. Local publications are prioritized from Senegal to Botswana. Systems such as ANCIR's iLab - a virtual hub - are used to ensure that journalists have access to a world class team including multi-language editors, data and prosecutorial experts, among others. ICIJ must be applauded for investing trust and removing barriers that characterise previous Africa partnerships.”
The collaboration was made possible thanks to the generous support of Australian philanthropist and businessman Graeme Wood, as well as grants from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Free Press Unlimited (FPU) and Natural Resource Governance Institute.
Data and Field Work Combine to Reveal Australian Mining's Impact in Africa
By Cécile Schilis-Gallego
10 July 2015
Since the beginning of 2004, more than 380 people have died in mining accidents or in off-site skirmishes connected to Australian publicly-traded mining companies in 13 countries in Africa.
Australian mining companies are more numerous than those from other mining giants such as Canada, the United Kingdom and China. At the end of 2014, more than 150 companies held about 1500 licenses and owned or managed dozens of mining operations across 33 countries in Africa.
Multiple Australian mining companies are accused of negligence, unfair dismissal, violence and environmental law-breaking across Africa, according to legal filings and community petitions gathered from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana.
Australian state and federal government entities, including government workers’ pension funds, have invested in controversial Australian mining companies operating in Africa.
Fatal Extraction is an international collaboration combining corporate data and extensive field reporting to reveal deaths, injuries and community conflicts linked to Australian mining companies across Africa. Australia has more mining companies in Africa than other mining giants such as Canada and China.
The 18-month Fatal Extraction investigation has brought together data and records from Australia and Africa in a way that hasn’t been done before, combining corporate information from the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) with months of on-the-ground work by reporters throughout Africa.
While reporters travelled more than 30,000 kilometers, digging through dusty public documents and finding victims and witnesses who have never spoken to media before, ICIJ's data team focussed on collecting and analyzing available data to build out a more comprehensive picture of Australian mining companies' presence in Africa.
Together, the data team and reporters reviewed financial reports, announcements and news articles reporting fatalities directly or indirectly connected to mining activities in Africa. We were able to document more than 380 deaths in 13 African countries since 2004.
With the assistance of the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR), we also reviewed more than 1,000 annual or quarterly reports and company announcements to investors to identify all mining companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) that were actively exploring or producing minerals on the African continent as of December 31, 2014. We found 152 companies active in 33 countries.
Counting Fatalities since 2004
The first part of ICIJ’s analysis consisted in counting and documenting all fatalities that occurred on African mining sites operated by Australian publicly traded companies starting from the beginning of 2004 up to June 11, 2015. We relied on automated processes supplemented by manual searches for the most recent months.
Most of the deaths ICIJ found were recorded in company reports posted on the ASX website or in announcements to investors. ICIJ combed through documents searching for specific keywords that would identify fatalities in connection with mining activities. In order to identify the mining companies listed since 2004, we purchased historical listings from Investogain Australia.
Explore ICIJ's interactive Fatal Extraction application.As ICIJ used automated processes for identifying potential fatalities in mining company reports, there is a chance that some may have been missed and our analysis may be undercounting the overall number of deaths recorded by the companies. All fatalities identified by the automated process were manually checked and re-checked to ensure accuracy.
We also sifted through the news media archival databases LexisNexis and Arachnys to find all fatalities reported in the media. We cross-referenced the media reports with our findings from the mining company documents to ensure we did not double-count any deaths.
ICIJ included fatalities directly related to the mining activity (such as deaths from a landslide or onsite vehicle incidents) as well as fatalities indirectly related to the mining company’s presence in Africa (including deaths resulting from protests, assaults or other violence) that were reported in company filings, legal submissions and media reports.
Inclusion of fatalities on mine sites or in connection with a mining company does not suggest or otherwise imply that the company is liable or legally responsible for the death.
Companies active in Africa in 2014
ICIJ looked at all the last quarterly reports of 2014 published on the ASX website by companies belonging to the “Energy” and “Materials” sectors. Within this pile of documents, we ran a text-matching script to identify those listing “mining tenements,” a type of license that indicates a company is active in a particular location, and/or the name of an African country to identify countries that were active in mining on the continent as of the end of the year. We also looked at annual reports of companies in the same sectors for any mention of African countries, and then manually identified any additional companies active in Africa that hadn’t turned up in our search through the quarterly reports. The combination of searches allowed us to more comprehensively identify companies that were active in Africa as of December 31, 2014.
Explorers and producers, licenses and agreements
The idea was that we would identify explorers by looking at the quarterly reports - where companies list their exploration licenses to comply with ASX listing rule 5.3.3 - and producers by looking at annual reports where they list operations.
Our list includes all companies that reported exploration tenement licenses and mining licenses with any ownership interest as of December 31, 2014. This means that we excluded “options to acquire” as well as licenses under application or relinquished by the end of 2014. We also excluded companies that were suspended or delisted by December 31, 2014 and companies that did not hold licenses themselves but had an interest in a company that owned a mining license in Africa.
We double checked that we were not missing any company by crossing our results with a list provided to us by the company SNL Metals & Mining. We were also able to download a list of all ASX companies active in Africa, thanks to the mining database InfoMine, and we crossed their results with ours to identify companies our other processes might have missed.
We then logged the number of mining operations, licenses and farm-in agreements for each company/country combination. Farm-in agreements allow another company to join an existing licensee on a piece of land in drilling or exploration. ICIJ counted them in the “licenses” category. For every company, we also listed the minerals they reported exploring or extracting in each African country in which they were active.
By combining data work with field work, ICIJ's Fatal Extraction investigation has revealed the extent of Australia's presence in Africa, as well as a potentially troubling track record by some companies in the rush for the continent's minerals, including practices that would be impermissible and unthinkable within Australia and other parts of the developed world.
Explore the country-by-country data in our interactive database to learn more.