Aussie miners want structured African approach

An Australian think tank called for a more strategic approach to engagement with countries and regional organisations in Africa’s mining sector recently.
The Canberra-based Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) drawing on findings from its second Aus-Africa Dialogue held in Zambia in 2015 with the South Africa-based Brenthurst Foundation, recently outlined their plan for closer collaboration between Australian miners and African governments.
ASPI Senior Analyst, Ms Lisa Sharland, said there is a clear need for the development of a whole-government strategy which identifies Australia’s priorities for African engagement (regional and geographic) and with its private sector.
“Such a strategy would ensure that the government and private sector are well positioned to identify opportunities for broader Australian-African engagement,” Ms Sharland said.
“This strategy is also essential to ensure that the Australian Government is able to mitigate potential risks to Australia’s national interests,” she continued.
“The recent announcement regarding the development of a white paper on foreign affairs provides a valuable opportunity to explore some of the priorities for Australia’s engagement in Africa going forward and should be seized upon.”
Ms Sharland said mining is a pivot point in any more intensified Australia-African engagement.
“The remote location of African mines, many of them joint ventures with Australian partners and investors, means mine owners often perform a quasi-government role,” she said.
“Admittedly, some of the higher risk African mining ventures can present difficulties for investment and there are ongoing challenges with taxation and revenue arrangements.
“But investment in African mines also has a large multiplier effect in terms of jobs in regions, investment in local infrastructure and the prosperity of regional industries.”