Action alert: Protest AusAID’s pro-mining conference!

WHERE: SMC Conference & Function Ctre, 66 Goulburn St, Sydney

WHEN: 10am Monday 20th May

WHY… Because aid money should not be used to promote Australia’s mining interests


Join Friends of the Earth in contesting the AusAID's pro-mining conference.


Ausaid is holding its latest ‘Mining for Development Conference’ in Sydney next week. 500 people will hear how mining in developing countries ‘delivers long-term benefits to the economy and host communities, and to the natural environment as well’.


In reality, mineral wealth is a curse for many countries that rely on mining. Mining always involves the exploitation of a non-renewable resource, with irreparable environmental impacts. Mining dependency causes regulatory capture as mining companies hold countries to ransom. More sustainable industries are damaged, creating a ‘two-speed’ economy. Inequalities rise, especially between regions, creating social and political instability. Women disproportionately bear the brunt of many of these curses, enforcing exclusion. And human rights are compromised as mine-affected communities are displaced. 


Last year the World Bank asked ‘are natural resources cursed?’ In a large-scale investigation across more than two hundred regions it concluded YES - low-income countries dependent on mining suffer from a long-term resource curse. In Washington the World Bank says mining is bad for development. In Sydney, AusAID’s ‘Mining for Development 2013 Conference’ is promoting mining as the development cure-all. 


Join us to stop this conference spreading the resource curse across low-income countries.


CONTACT: [email protected]


Why protest the Mining for Development Conference?

The Mining for Development conference is funded by AusAID as part of its $127 million program to promote mining in developing nations. The ‘Australian Mining for Development Initiative’ (AMDI) claims to promote ‘sustainable mining’ – “mining that delivers long-term benefits to the economy and host communities, and to the natural environment as well.”


In an attempt at development alchemy, AusAID claims the AMDI and conference will “maximise the benefits” of mining through the provision of economic and social programs. In fact, much of the funding under the AMDI has been used either directly or indirectly to promote Australian mining and business interests overseas. The focus on social development initiatives merely provides a veneer of credibility.


AusAID funds have been used to fund events like the ‘Mining for Development Conference’, where bureaucrats are flown into Australia to talk shop with miners. Other spends from the AMDI include:


  • The creation of the ‘International Mining For Development Centre’ in Perth, which facilitates study tours, workshops and visits to mine sites of companies such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton for officials from minerals-rich developing countries.
  • Funding corporate social responsibility initiatives for Australian mining companies in the Australian-Africa Mining Industry Group (AAMIG)
  • Training scholarships for mining-related activities, such as in the geosciences, designed to strengthen the skills base to the benefit of in-coming mining companies.
  • Promotional activities focused on Africa, funding communications and awareness campaigns ‘aimed at government decision makers and the mining industry in Africa’.

AusAID highlight the ‘strong commercial rationale’ for Australia to invest aid money into African mining, with around 230 Australian companies active in mining industries in Africa, and investment worth more than $50 billion.


While some are taken by the promise of a development golden egg, AusAID’s promotion of mining as a means of development is fundamentally flawed. Independent studies commissioned by AusAID itself have recommended that development outcomes would be better served by a spending focus on food security, water and sanitation and maternal and child health rather than mining.[1]


If the Australian government is serious about reducing the negative impacts of mining they would do better to investigate how they might regulate the behaviour of Australian mining companies overseas. In 2012 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child criticised Australian mining companies for their “participation and complicity in serious violations of human rights” in Africa, Asia and the Pacific that included instances of children becoming victims of evictions, land dispossession and killings.


What you can do:

  • Become a member of Fiends of the Earth, and get involved!
  • Write to Bob Carr to let him know you don’t want Australian aid money being used to promote mining.
  • Donate to help us argue for development alternatives.


To donate to FoE CLICK HERE

[1] Joel Negin and Glenn Denning, 2011, Study of Australia’s approach to aid in Africa, Final Report, February, pp18