Mining is an industry of strategic importance in Southern Africa. Roughly half of the world’s vanadium, platinum, and diamonds originate in the region, along with 36% of gold and 20% of cobalt. These minerals contribute greatly to several Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member State gross national product and employment, and many of them depend on mineral exports for their foreign exchange earnings.
Recognising the significance of the mineral industry within the region, SADC launched the Protocol on Mining in September 1997 which came into effect in February 2000, and has come to form the basis for SADC’s work programme on mining. This protocol aims to develop the region’s mineral resources through international collaboration, in turn improving the living standards of the people engaged with the mining industry.
The Protocol on Mining
As part of the Protocol on Mining, Member States of SADC have been engaged to harmonise their policies and procedures for mineral extraction, cooperating on improving technical capacity and sharing knowledge. With a goal to grow the mineral industry in Southern Africa, SADC Member States also agree to encourage private sector developments, including small-scale projects that promote economic empowerment of those who have been historically disadvantaged in the mining sector. Because mining can be a hazardous undertaking, the Protocol on Mining also requires that Member States observe internationally-recognised health and safety and environmental protection standards.
In order to facilitate these goals, the Protocol on Mining also calls for an organisational structure consisting of a Committee of Mining Ministers, a Technical Committee of Officials, and a Mining Coordinating Unit to oversee mining operations and ensure that applicable standards are upheld.
Harmonisation of Mining Policies, Standards, Legislative and Regulatory Framework in Southern Africa
As part of efforts to implement the Protocol on Mining, the SADC Secretariat, working with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Southern Africa Office (UNECA-SA) developed a framework for “Harmonisation of Mining Policies, Standards, Legislative and Regulatory Framework in Southern Africa”. The Framework was approved by the SADC Mining Ministers in March 2006, in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Subsequently, the SADC Secretariat partnered with UNECA-SA to develop an Implementation Plan, to translate the Framework into an operational programme of activities. The resultant Harmonisation Implementation Plan was adopted by SADC Mining Ministers at their meeting held on 12th November 2009 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. The Harmonisation Implementation Plan has eight themes or areas of work grouped into categories of related activities.
Since releasing the Protocol on Mining in 1997, SADC has organised several activities to promote mining investment, such as the SADC-EU Mining Investment Forum – Mines 2000 and the Australia-SADC Forum. Both forums successfully boosted awareness of the region’s mineral abundance and directly spurred investment in the region.
Likewise, the Protocol on Mining prompted several Member States to sign bilateral agreements with countries outside SADC, which has boosted investment. A recent success story regarding investment comes from Tanzania, which attracted considerable investment after it modernised its mining legislation, following encouragement and support from SADC. It is now one of the SADC region's leading gold producers.
Conflict Mining and the Kimberly Process
Historically, illegal mining and trade in gemstones has been used to fund conflict in parts of Southern Africa, which can have a devastating effect on the people living in conflict areas – a practice SADC is committed to eliminating. In 2000, SADC took action to prevent the trade in illegal diamonds from affecting legitimate ones. The United Nations followed the recommendations of the Committee of Mining Ministers and supported certification for rough diamonds, known as the Kimberly Process. In 2003, the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme was launched, ensuring the implementation of a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions and sanctions on trade in conflict diamonds; as a result promoting international peace and security. The Kimberly Process does not encompass illegal trade in other minerals; however, SADC is working to improve regulatory frameworks that govern mineral trade in order to remove potential for mining to provide any funding for conflict in the region.
- Protocol on Mining
- Harmonization of Mining Policies,Standards,Legislative and Regulatory Frameworks in Southern Africa
- SADC Major Achievements and Challenges Handbook