By Mukasiri Sibanda, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)
This post originally appeared on mukasirisibanda.wordpress.com on June 10, 2018
On 6 June 2018, Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) publicly announced that it has amicably resolved a six-year long dispute with government which was seeking to compulsorily acquire part of its mining claims measuring 27,948 hectares. This dispute was pending in the courts of Zimbabwe.
Consequently, Zimplats agreed to release 23,093 hectares to government “to ensure participation by other investors in the platinum mining industry.” Zimplats now owns 24,632 hectares with a new special lease valid for the lifetime of the mine. A significant development that warrants public scrutiny into how well the country’s mineral wealth is governed for the benefit of all Zimbabweans.
It is a positive development that this dispute was amicably resolved. But it must be noted that the dispute had been going on for six-long years, and such lengthy period riddled with uncertainty on government’s commitment to property rights and Zimbabwe as an unattractive investment destination. Such disregard for investment agreements also provides scant comfort to existing and prospective investors.
Notably, Zimbabwe is one of the least attractive investment destination according to Fraser Institute’s Policy Perception Index. Interestingly, Zimbabwe’s mineral potential is ranked among the top under the same organisation’s Mineral Potential Index. This partly explains why, despite Zimbabwe’s abundant mineral wealth, the country is struggling to attract much needed investments to realise the sustainable development dividend from its huge mineral wealth endowment.
One could also spin the agreement between Zimplats and government as positive in that the released land creates space for the entrance of new players in the platinum industry. In all mineral sectors, the entrance of new players is largely problematic as most of the land has been taken.
It is noteworthy that the new Minister of Mines, Honourable Winston Chitando publicly stated during the Chamber of Mines AGM held last month that from next year, government will enforce the law on renewal of mining titles. Paying ground rental and mining inspection fees will no longer suffice, but evidence to back capital expenditure will be required. He stressed that this is not a new requirement at all. Perhaps Zimplats was cornered by this development and it had no option but to release the ground. In this regard Chitando’s leadership is coming to bear, a man with strong private mining sector background.
Worryingly, Zimplats got a new mining lease valid for the life span of the mine. Its special mining lease was due to expire in August 2019. Terms and conditions of the new special mining lease have not been disclosed. What we know is that in the previous mining lease, Zimplats had a 2.5% royalty stabilisation agreement with government which undermined the country tax code in which platinum royalties were pegged at 10%.
In 2015, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA)’s annual revenue performance report revealed that mineral royalty income was in the red at $19,421,653.62. A factor attributed to a royalty refund of $101.55 million. Although the report did not state Zimplats, the refund came after Zimplats had won a court dispute with the tax agency on legality of the 2.5 percent royalty stabilisation agreement with Ministry of Mines.
Section 315 (2) (c) of the Constitution requires transparency and accountability in the negotiation and performance monitoring of mining contracts. It remains to be answered whether Parliament was involved in this deal? A government that was established against the backdrop of restoring order should be at the forefront of respecting the Constitution.
Now that government is in possession of released ground, what happens next? The privately-owned Zimbabwe Independent on Friday reported that Lucas Pouroulis, whose company Karo Resources, last month signed a $4.2 billion platinum deal with government, has been given the land in the resource rich Great Dyke.
The African Mining Vision, to which government is a signatory, cautions that known mineral reserves should be disposed through bidding to allow room for government to pick an investor who offers greater development outcomes like infrastructure, skills development, technology transfer and the development of local supply chains in addition to taxes.
The secrecy around the deals being announced currently leaves too much room for corruption. Lessons can be learnt from the acquisition of claims from Anglo American owned Unki Mine by government in 2008 as empowerment credits, which ended up in the hands of speculators. Government got $100 million from CAMEC, which later resold the Bougai and Kironde claims for nearly $1 billion dollars.
Much as Parliament is preoccupied with the issue of allegedly missing $15 billion diamond revenue from Marange, a lot is going on in the mining sector with mega deals being announced frequently. Parliament should keep its eye on the ball.
By David Mihalyi, Natural Resource Governance Institute, and Jim Cust, the World Bank
This post originally appeared on resourcegovernance.org on November 29, 2017
Resource-rich countries tend to experience slower economic growth and more social problems than do less-endowed countries—a phenomenon dubbed the “resource curse.” But it turns out that in many cases, economic growth begins to underperform long before the first drop of oil is produced; this we call the “presource curse.”
In a recent research paper, we found that, following oil discoveries, growth systematically underperforms the forecasts made by the International Monetary Fund. For certain countries with weak institutions, the discoveries have even led to significant growth disappointments, compared with pre-discovery trends.
We propose that the presource curse is driven by elevated expectations. Expectations can in turn drive suboptimal behavior. For example, governments may be pressured by voters to embark on risky borrowing on the back of overly rosy projections.
To find out more, read our new article published in Finance and Development.
The underlying World Bank research paper provides econometric evidence of this phenomenon.
Elsewhere, we discuss how expectations of resource wealth drove policy making in Ghana, Lebanon, Mongolia, Mozambique and Sierra Leone. On the other hand, Tanzania is an example of a country that so far has avoided the presource curse.
Our brief on premature funds discusses the risks of governments creating sovereign wealth funds in countries when resource revenues are small, distant or uncertain.
David Mihalyi is an economic analyst with the Natural Resource Governance Institute.
Jim Cust is an economist in the Office of the Chief Economist, Africa, at the World Bank.
By Scott Sellwood, Oxfam America
This post originally appeared on politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org on September 20, 2017
New research from Oxfam’s partners in Peru shows – yet again – how hard it can be for governments to protect the tax base over the life of a mining project (and hold mining companies accountable).
For many countries, tax and other payments from oil and mining companies represent an important source of government revenue. A case in point is Peru, where the government receives billions each year from companies in the extractive sector. But is Peru receiving all that it should be from these companies?
Last month, Peru’s Supreme Court ruled that its tax regulator (SUNAT) could finally recover millions in lost revenues from Peru’s largest copper mine, Cerro Verde. For the last six years, SUNAT has fought to recover $250 million in unpaid mining taxes between 2006 and 2009. Of this, $140 million is due to be paid to the local government of Arequipa – the region where the mine is located – under Peru’s decentralized mining, oil, and gas revenue sharing rules. These payments will help pay for urgently needed public investments. The Supreme Court appeal was the latest attempt by Cerro Verde to avoid paying what the government says is due.
Oxfam’s partner, Grupo Propuesta Ciudadana (GPC), has followed the Cerro Verde case closely and analyzed the publicly available data. At the center of the now six year fight to recover the lost millions is a tax stabilization agreement signed by then-President Alberto Fujimori in 1998, who is now imprisoned for corruption and gross human rights violations. The company argues that this agreement entitled it to tax exemptions related to its first major expansion investment in 2006 when it invested $900 million to nearly triple its annual production. Peru’s tax regulator disagrees, as do their courts.
Peru is right to be pursuing these unpaid taxes—but what if this is just the tip of the iceberg? GPC argues that they should be trying to recover more from the Cerro Verde mine. Their analysis shows that between 2006 and 2011 the mine failed to pay an additional $200 million in taxes. Cerro Verde, in their own financial statements, state that if they lose all the appeals they will owe $544 million in unpaid taxes between 2006 and 2013.
Further, between 2005 and 2012 (the “boom” years for mining companies around the world) GPC estimates that Cerro Verde generated upwards of $5 billion in tax credits, as a result of overly generous fiscal terms. And last year, a second major investment by Cerro Verde allowed copper production to further double (500,000 tons in 2016). This is a major concern for the tax justice groups in Peru. Basically, despite production increasing and commodity prices recovering, a second tax stabilization agreement signed in 2015 (allowing for accelerated capital depreciation) is likely to mean that Cerro Verde’s taxable income for the next few years is effectively zero.
These discretionary tax exemptions are already having a huge impact on budget transfers to Arequipa: since 2012, subnational transfers from mining have collapsed (from an average of 70 percent in 2012 to just 2 percent in 2016). GPC cautions that these revenues are unlikely to recover until 2019 or 2020, at the earliest.
In just the last two years Oxfam has commissioned similar case study research in Cambodia, Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Niger—which each map government risks to revenue. Understanding oil, gas, and mine economics at the individual project level allows us to understand how national tax policy, royalty policy, subsidies and other investment incentives affect the amount and timing of revenue being produced by extractives projects for government coffers – and then into investments that yield inclusive human development outcomes. For our partners and allies, it is at the project level where revenues are secured or lost and it is where the real transformative potential for those revenues to support pro-poor development outcomes rests – as opposed to “economic growth,” and its often false promises of sustainable and inclusive jobs, infrastructure, or voluntary corporate social responsibility commitments.
Like the Cerro Verde case, these case studies show how countries that are heavily dependent on minerals or hydrocarbons for government revenues lose taxes from a combination of poorly negotiated, overly generous, and secretive contracts, and weak fiscal regimes vulnerable to abuse. Unlike Peru, not all governments have the wherewithal to audit multinational mining companies, and stay the fight through years of appeals.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Despite the seemingly infinite ways large mining, oil, and gas companies can avoid paying taxes in countries where they work – as new research from PWYP Canada shows – the pathways are not unlimited. There are clear patterns and concrete legal, policy, and administrative solutions that can minimize these risks.
In Peru, for example, the government should:
Peru’s fight to recover lost revenues is not unique. Too often, countries with significant mineral, oil and gas resources fail to secure a fair share of the revenues generated by these projects. Such losses (which some global estimates put in the billions) are, quite simply, a matter of life or death. The lost billions represent money that should have been spent on building schools and hospitals, paying teachers, doctors and nurses, and providing equal access to safe drinking water or health care, among other urgent development priorities.
For more than ten years, Oxfam has fought for law and policy reform to require public disclosure of project-by-project payments, contracts, and beneficial ownership. We continue to defend anti-corruption laws like Section 1504 of Dodd-Frank and are now seeing a flood of new disclosures from laws in the EU and Canada. These long fought for gains are now allowing us to better understand how individual mining, oil, and gas project revenues are lost and we are ramping up our campaigns to stop them.
Scott Sellwood is a Program Advisor for Extractive Industries at Oxfam America.
By Mukasiri Sibanda, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)
This post originally appeared on mukasirisibanda.wordpress.com on June 29, 2017
In an environment where a chorus from communities, CSOs and government on improved transparency in the mining sector is strong and persistent, what accountability opportunities and challenges does Caledonia’s Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act (ESTMA)Report present? This blog explores if there is added value from Caledonia’s ESTMA report to the Publish What You Pay campaign in Zimbabwe. Basically, the ESTMA Report produced by Caledonia largely focuses on Blanket Mine located in Gwanda rural district of Matebeleland South province.
What is in the Report and opportunities to enhance accountability?
Reporting period and timeliness of information
The reporting period is an important aspect of any report. It reveals the timeliness of information and how easier it is to be compared with other independent reports based on their reporting periods. Caledonia’s ESTMA reporting period runs from 01 January to 31 December 2016. This reporting period fits perfectly with the reporting cycle of the public funds as prescribed by the Financial Management Act (Chapter 22:09). Ideally, this makes it easier to compare Caledonia’s ESTMA Report with other public funds like the local government fund and Rural Electrification Levy (REL).
Accuracy of information & social audit opportunities
Quality assurance of information is necessary considering that corporates have been accused a number of times for “creative accounting.” So, the attestation by the reporting entity and the independent auditor that the report is factual, complete in all material respects as required by ESTMA gives a fair measure of comfort to the users of information.
There is an opportunity for PWYP Zimbabwe to carry out a social audit and give its own opinion on accuracy of information shared by Caledonia’ ESTMA report. This process involves triangulating payments made to government by Caledonia with data on what government received from Caledonia’s Blanket mine. Even if PWYP Zimbabwe fails to get the requisite cooperation from government, it can still form its own opinion that it could not attest as to the accuracy and completeness of the Caledonia’s ESTMA report. This will form a good basis for a campaign for greater transparency on what government is getting from mining companies.
Improved transparency on payments made to government
From the report, one can easily track the various payments made by Blanket Mine to different government departments in 2016. This entails taxes and royalties paid to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), fees paid to local government and ministry of mines and payments made Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) such as the Rural Electrification Levy (REL) and infrastructure improvements.
Tax revenue a reliable source of development finance
From the Report, tax revenue is a predictable and reliable income stream when compared to dividends. Narrowing down to local public funds for development, tax was paid to Gwanda rural district council whilst no dividends were paid to Gwanda Community Share Ownership Trust. Without a doubt, Community Share Ownership Trusts have heightened community interest in areas where they have been successfully launched. PWYP Zimbabwe should therefore guard against possible diversion of community interest in transparency and accountability of local taxes paid by mining companies.
Since Blanket Mine is on an expansion drive and PWYP Zimbabwe should check if this is translating to improved payments to local government. This data is critical to show if the taxes paid to local government by mining companies are regressive or not. Certainly, the fact that labour, a production factor which has been supplanted by technology is being used as a basis for calculating local tax paid by mining companies. Hence PWYP Zimbabwe can leverage on ESTMA report data to show cause why local tax policy should be reformed.
What the report tells us about government’s intentions to scrap royalties
Clearly, royalties dominate payments made to government by Blanket Mine. It is worrying that early this year, the Minister of Mines intimated early this year that government is mulling scrapping royalties for the gold sector. If this comes to fruition, mineral revenue flows from mining will be hit hardest thereby weakening government’s ability to invest in social protection of poor and vulnerable groups of society.
Mining contributes significantly to Rural Electrification Levy
Increasing access to electricity is one of the priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Looking at the ESTMA report, mining companies are significant contributors to the rural electrification levy, $466,322 was paid by Blanket Mine in 2016. Therefore, PWYP Zimbabwe should include transparency and accountability of public funds such as the rural electrification levy
Legal reforms on disclosure, lessons for Zimbabwe
It is important to note that the disclosure on payments made to government by Caledonia’s project on Blanket mine came because of Canadian law, the ESTMA. At the domestic level, mineral revenue transparency deficiency need legal reforms. This is so even though the Constitution clearly provides for public access to information in general under Section 62 and specifically for the mining contract negotiation and contract performance under Section 315 subsection 2 (c) and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Listings Requirements for mining companies.
It is interesting to note that the draft Mining and Minerals Amendment Bill has a provision for mandatory primary listing of all large-scale mining companies. If passed, automatically, the Bill will be a game changer to enhance public transparency in the mining sector. However, the Canadian experience shows that legal reforms to promote disclosure of payments made to government by mining companies is a necessity. Government can even take further legal steps of ensuring that even non-listed mining companies disclose per project the various payments made to government.
Without government’s disclosure of payments received from mining companies, public reconciliation of mineral revenue remains a pipe dream. Whilst one can easily pick the various payments made by Blanket Mine to government from the ESTMA Report, data on what government receives from mining companies is barely available and accessible to the public.
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