Mining in its many forms has underpinned economic development.
Mining in its many forms has underpinned economic development.

Minister called to lift mining industry's veil of secrecy

HE LED the call for developing countries to be more open about mining royalties, but Federal Resources Minister Gary Gray was given his own call to act by a group that wants Australia to do the same.

The minister was in Sydney for a meeting of the 100-country Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a group pushing to publicise how mining royalties are paid to developing countries.

The concept is that mining industries in some parts of the world operate under a veil of secrecy, which can result in the "resource curse", where lucrative minerals are pulled from the country without the community experiencing the benefits.

It may also prove a fertile ground for corruption or bribery.

A report from Geoscience Australia and AusAID chronicled investment issues in 138 developing countries including political, operational, security and terrorism risks.

But Publish What You Pay coordinator Claire Spoors was at the same conference calling on Australia to create laws forcing all mining companies here to publish details of royalties they pay.

This would include any royalties paid not just to the Australian Government, but any royalties paid to foreign governments while operating beyond our shores.

It would mimic legislation already in place in the European Union and in the United States.

By doing so, governments and companies can compare data and ensure that funds go where they are intended.

The Publish What You Pay campaign has been running for two years in Australia after successfully changing laws overseas.

Ms Spoors said international delegates will next week meet with politicians about the issue.