20 March 2014

Africa: U.S. Joins Global Effort On Mining Transparency


Washington — The United States has joined a group of more than 40 nations working to shine more light into the deepest mines.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has accepted a U.S. commitment to adopt the group's standards after a vote on the application at a March 18-19 meeting in Oslo, Norway.

EITI is a more than 10-year-old organization that brings together representatives from government, industry and civil organizations to enhance public understanding and awareness of how governments manage and develop oil, gas and other mined resources. EITI documents say the initiative requires "full disclosure of government revenues from their extractives" and strives to "stimulate a public debate about how the country's natural resources should be managed."

The Department of the Interior (DOI) is the lead U.S. government agency for overseeing the nation's mining and drilling. In a March 19 news release, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the agency's goal in implementing EITI's voluntary standards in the United States "complements the Obama Administration's commitment to reforming and modernizing management of domestic natural resources overseen by the Department of the Interior."

Implementation of EITI standards in U.S. extractive industries, Jewell said, will also advance the Obama administration's commitment to the principles of the Open Government Partnership, another multilateral forum devoted to greater responsiveness and accountability in government. This three-year-old initiative has been adopted in 63 countries across six continents.

President Obama first announced his administration's intent to strive for EITI compliance in 2011. Since then, a group representing various interested parties has been working to develop a plan for sensible disclosure of and accountability for information about revenues from mining assets.

The DOI's Office of Natural Resource Revenue reports that it manages about $11 billion annually in energy and mineral leases held by private sector companies. "Every American benefits from revenues we collect," ONRR reports on its website. Companies make payments to the government for permission to extract the nation's mineral resources. Those revenues are then distributed to Indian tribes that hold mineral rights on their land and to other goverrnment funds for preservation of land, water and historic sites.

Complying with EITI standards for public disclosure of revenue from extractive industries is a key responsibility for member governments. Improving relations between the mining industry and the public and building confidence in resource governance are other commitments for EITI compliance.

The DOI news release says that the United States will be able to produce its first ETII compliance report within two years.

The United States is the first G8 country to become a candidate for EITI acceptance as an implementing country.

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