A few weeks ago I wrote about Tearfund’s Unearth the Truth campaign, which calls for transparency in the extractive industries in developing countries. Unless mining companies are forced to disclose how much they pay for mining rights, people have no way to keep the government accountable. Revenues from mining or drilling can vanish, and local people get no share in the wealth of natural resources extracted from their own lands. It is a gift to corrupt officials.
The latest video from the campaign, which is aimed at churches, is a great case study from Sierra Leone – a country with great natural wealth that isn’t shared. “I feel very embarrassed and annoyed that donors should come in to feed us” says one of the interviewees. “We have everything. In fact, it should have got to the point where we are feeding other countries.”
The mining may be taking place in developing countries, but the mining companies themselves are registered in the West. The US already moved on this. Among the Wall Street reforms in the Frank-Dodd Act 201o are new transparency measures requiring oil and mining companies to provide country-by-country reports of what they have paid to governments.
No such law exists in the EU, allowing companies to file very broad and unspecific numbers. There is a proposed amendment to the EU’s Transparency and Accounting Directives however. It is up for debate soon, and you can write to your MEP about the issue here.