Mining and Conservation



ABCG: On Mining and Conservation in Africa

As conservation NGOs focus on larger landscapes such as ecoregions and hotspots, they must consider engaging with other sectors that impact biodiversity such as the mining industry. The African continent is richly endowed with mineral reserves and ranks first or second in terms of concentration of world mineral reserves of bauxite, cobalt, diamond, gold, manganese, platinum-group metals and titanium minerals (rutile and ilmenite), among others. Mineral exploration and production constitute significant parts of Africa’s economies and remain important to future economic growth. Consequently, there is an increasing interest in mining activities occurring in important areas for biodiversity conservation, especially as some African nations open up more opportunities to the private sector.

FY2013 Accomplishments

Last year, under the leadership of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and working in collaboration with ABCG’s Mining and Biodiversity in DRC working group—comprised of Conservation International (CI), WCS, World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Wildlife Fund—held a strategic and technical workshop designed to review and build responses to biodiversity and ecosystems services threats including habitat degradation and destruction, over-hunting and poaching, infrastructure and agricultural encroachment, among other threats.

The workshop entitled “Mitigating the Impacts from Mining in the DRC: Workshop on Strategy and Practice" was carried out in DRC's capital, Kinshasa on June 13–14, 2013. Overall, the workshop generated increased awareness of international standards for best practices in mining and biodiversity; it reviewed case studies of results from the application of the mitigation hierarchy in the mining sector; and it identified opportunities to strengthen the mitigation of biodiversity impacts through social and environmental assessments mechanisms.

In addition to the seminal Kinshasa workshop, the working group produced and published two policy briefs led by CI and WRI each. The first by CI looked at optimal ways to engage the extractive industry in their pursuit of mineral resources without exacting a disproportionate toll on biodiversity resources. The second brief by WRI concerned itself with incorporating mining industry financial disclosure practices as a means of promoting corporate social responsibility for the industry, transparency within governments and accountability for the public interest.

Download and read ABCG’s 2013 Annual Report’s section 3 titled: Managing Extractive Industries to Protect Biodiversity, for a full report on the group task outputs.

May 28, 2013—Heart of Iron - Mining in the Congo Basin Rainforest and Conservation in Africa
World Wildlife Fund and World Bank Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Africa’s Extractive Industries

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2013 - World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the World Bank today signed a memorandum of understanding to intensify collaboration in Africa’s extractive industries sector, and jointly support more sustainable extractive industry practices that provide benefits to local communities and protect the environment.

The MOU commits the two institutions to share knowledge and expertise relating to the extractives sector in Africa, utilize and leverage existing resources, collaborate on research and dissemination of good practices, provide policy guidance, boost collaboration with other entities, and jointly host seminars, workshops and training events to strengthen African capacities for sustainable management of natural resources.

Read more on the event here.

June 7, 2013—Financial Disclosure and the Canadian Mineral Sector: Lagging Behind or Catching Up?

Peter G. Veit and Catherine Easton of the World Resources Institute report on an in-depth study on an industry not known for its transparency and environmental soundness. Their policy brief published here features Canada’s extractive industry, the world’s leading mineral country, accounting for well over a third of the share of global mineral exploration spending. Yet an unsettling disparity in financial disclosure exists in Canada’s mining sector—especially over payments to foreign governments. This raises much concern considering much of recent global mineral exploration and permitting is occurring in less affluent nations with weak governance to say the least. For example, mining concessions show an alarming overlap with high conservation value areas in the Congo Basin.

The importance of socio-economic and environmental responsibility in mining cannot be overstated, and there are apparent double standards on how companies approach these responsibilities in their home countries versus host countries. As a leader in the sector, Canada is facing increasing calls for more significant engagement of corporates social responsibility standards such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Download and read the pdf brief here.

    FY2012 Accomplishments

    ABCG members Conservation International (CI), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have worked together on several critical aspects of overlapping areas of mining interest and biodiversity concern in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The total mineral wealth of the DRC is estimated to be $24 trillion—50 percent more than the United States Gross Domestic Product in 2011. Most mineral reserves are still untapped, but they could potentially make DRC the richest country in the world. DRC has the world’s largest reserves of cobalt and columnite-tantalite (coltan), the world’s second-largest reserves of copper (equivalent to 10% of the world’s reserves), and significant reserves diamonds and gold . As a result of a decade of war, civil unrest and instability, most mining operations are artisanal . Since 2004, however, gradual improvements in security and state control over mining areas have allowed formal actors to re-enter the sector. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of exploration and exploitation concessions granted by the DRC government. In January 2011, the Ministry of Mining listed 7,732 mineral permits covering 112,731,739 hectares, which represents 48 percent of the DRC territory. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of mining permits granted by the DRC government increased by 35%, covering an additional 14 million hectares (ha). In April of this year, the government announced that it plans to triple the size of the protected estate to reach 17% of the territory in protected areas. With the area under mining permits increasing rapidly, competition between mining and conservation interests can only intensify in the upcoming years.

    Our goal is to develop and implement a model for engaging companies and governments on biodiversity conservation and stewardship in Central Africa, beginning a comprehensive approach in the DRC. The project identifies critical biodiversity areas as well as mining company explorations and operations (including small scale and artisanal mining hotspots) that need to be prioritized for conservation engagement.

    In FY2012, ABCG completed the following:

    On 11-12 October 2011, ABCG's Extractive Industries Group, made up of members Conservation International (CI), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), held a strategic planning workshop. The aim was to bring together in-country field representatives of ABCG partners with US-based staff and other relevant stakeholders to share work products developed by ABCG Extractive Industries Group and develop a strategic approach for further addressing extractive industry and biodiversity issues in the DRC and possibly neighboring countries in FY 2012. Presentations included:

    A brown bag presentation and discussion on 12 October 2011highlighted the preliminary results of these four ABCG member organizations’ work addressing the issues of mining and biodiversity in the DRC.

      This work is generously supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development's Biodiversity Analysis and Technical Support (USAID BATS) program of the Africa Bureau.

      On 19 December 2001, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) held a meeting to learn more about the impacts of large-scale and small-scale mining on conservation entitled: “Mining and Conservation in Africa:  Why, When, How and Whether to Engage with Mining Companies and Artisanal & Small-Scale Miners." The meeting discussed the environmental impacts of mining, the role of artisanal mining, ways to engage the corporate sector in conservation, and impacts of mining to rural society. Click here to read a summary of the meeting.


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      • Private wrote "If you are interested in mining, you may also want to check out the Extractive Industries Community, which is under the Economic and Enterprise Development theme."

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