Raw Materials Working Group News February 2013

Gold kills many children in Burkina Faso


Mining is a pillar of the economy of Burkina Faso. With more than 1.1 billion Euros, gold has been the first export in 2012. This is about 5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But gold also has its dark side. It kills. Civil society calls for measures to prevent child labor in artisanal mining sites.


There are at least 600,000 miners spread over 700 sites. A UNICEF study in Burkina has estimated 20.000 children aged 5 to 18 on a sample of 90 sites. Assuming that the sample is representative of the 700 sites, we estimate that there are more than 150,000 children. To this number there must be added the babies and children under 5 who are there with their mothers, and who are threatened by the dust of these sites.  Read more


Niger Government to renegotiate contracts with AREVA


Niger’s contracts with uranium company AREVA are to be negotiated. With Niger’s uranium only contributing 5% to the GDP, civil society has organized a public conference highlighting the inequality of the Niger/AREVA relationship and calling on the government to take action. Although Niger is the world’s fourth largest producer of uranium, 60% of Niger’s population lives below the poverty line.


Niger’s partnership with AREVA – and the division of profits over uranium – has long been criticised as a one-sided affair. The relationship was an unbalanced one from the beginning, with AREVA gaining a monopoly over uranium extraction days before independence. Indeed many see AREVA as an extension of the French government. The blurring of identity between AREVA and French government is reflected in the fact that deals between AREVA and the Nigerien government used to be referred to colloquially as ‘defence deals’ rather than natural resource deals.   Read more      


Mozambique smelting profits should not fill foreign coffers


UK government and World Bank are accused of benefiting disproportionately from lucrative Mozal smelter. A campaign requires shareholders to return excessive profits from an aluminum smelting project in Mozambique. They should hand their excess money back to the people of Mozambique, and support a renegotiation of the amount of tax the smelter pays. The Mozal smelter has benefited foreign interests much more than the people of Mozambique. For every $1 paid to the Mozambique government, $21 has left the country in profit or interest to foreign governments and investors.


To attract foreign investors, the Mozambique government exempted Mozal from taxes on profit, levying only a 1% turnover tax, while allowing all profit from the smelter to be taken offshore. Mozambique has enjoyed strong growth since 1998 but the country remains poor. Mozambique ranks fourth from bottom of the UN's human development index. It is a juxtaposition of high growth and high poverty. The large export revenues and economic activity Mozal generates boost overall figures for growth and exports. But these are not entering the Mozambique economy.

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