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Public submissions to parliament on the revised Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (MPRD-AB), originally gazetted in December 2012, were due last Friday September 6, 2013. It is hard to overstate the extent to which the final incarnation of this Bill will affect South Africa’s economic wellbeing.
SAIIA Occasional Paper No 151, August 2013
The value of nature's ‘services’ and its non-market benefits need to be better understood and incorporated into the development choices that countries make. As resource-rich African countries are poised to receive an influx of new wealth from oil, coal and gas deposits, the need to motivate for coastal ecosystems to be prioritised, managed more effectively, protected and restored is becoming more urgent. In countries like Nigeria, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique, mangrove and coastal forests coincide with the physical location of fossil fuel discoveries and proposed port and infrastructure developments.
SAIIA Policy Briefing No 72, August 2013
SAIIA Policy Briefing 70, August 2013
Marikana has elicited a voluminous spectrum of analyses. The most insightful have pointed to the need for deep structural reforms, including innovative means of addressing the persistent challenges of migrant labour. Few, however, have drawn parallels between Marikana and the central problem of violence in South African society more broadly.
South Africa’s gold mining industry is in a perilous condition. In the second quarter of this year alone, the gold price plummeted $220 (R2 153) an ounce, partly in the wake of US economic recovery, which has reduced the demand for gold as a secure store of value.
Monday, 29 July 2013

Congo: the curse of riches

The Democratic Republic of Congo has witnessed another recent outbreak of violence related to the struggle over its rich natural resources. The central African country is faced with a dilemma which is frequently posed in Africa: Is there any way to turn the so-called ‘natural resource curse’ into a blessing?
Volume 20, Issue 2 of SAIIA's peer-reviewed journal, the South African Journal of International Affairs, is now out, featuring articles from leading academics on a range of topics relevant to African interests.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has submitted an application to the Labour Court to prevent its loss of official recognition at the Lonmin platinum mines. They dispute the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU)’s claim to representing 70% of low-skilled workers now. That NUM is desperately contesting Lonmin’s plans to recognise AMCU is a destructive function of the institution of centralised bargaining.
In 2012, Africa lost an estimated $43-$46 billion to illicit financial flows (IFF). Calculated over time, the size of this “shadow financial system” is staggering. For instance, between 1980 and 2009 the continent is estimated to have lost around US$1.3 trillion. This is according to a report by Global Financial Integrity (GFI) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) released in May 2013.
The South African Institute of International Affairs, Western Cape Branch, invites you to a public seminar on "Genetically Modified Products - an African perspective" Speakers include: Jennifer Thomson
The recent global conference of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), convened in Sydney from 23-24 May 2013, provided an opportunity for the EITI board to adopt and launch the EITI Standard, a new set of membership criteria and reporting standards aimed at strengthening the contribution of the EITI to improved governance of extractive industries.
Biofuels have been heralded as a solution to the world’s dependence on hydrocarbons and are promoted under international carbon trading schemes as a mitigation tool for climate change – impelling first world governments to incorporate biofuels into energy mandates for transport industries. Due to the amount of land needed to grow biofuel crops such as jatropha, sugarcane and oil palm, the biofuels market has given rise to a rush to buy up the world’s farmland.
Increasingly assertive in continental politics and highly visible in a number of key global regulatory frameworks for the extractive sector, observers continue to wonder why South Africa (SA) remains conspicuously absent from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). This year marks the tenth anniversary of the framework as it does the Kimberley Process, another high-profile international regulatory scheme in which South Africa plays an instrumental role in preventing conflict minerals from entering the international diamonds supply chains through certification.
The South African deployment in the Central African Republic (CAR) which created a political firestorm at home, came to a precipitous end when President Zuma announced the forces’ withdrawal on 3 April. Beyond the official explanation which centred on a bilateral military cooperation agreement, unpacking the real rationale behind South Africa’s involvement requires a closer reading of a new African geopolitical script of which Pretoria is very much a part. Such a reading must consider the economic (largely resource) interests that forced the long unstable central African country back into the global media spotlight this past month.
The South African Institute of International Affairs, Western Cape Branch, invites you to a public seminar to be addressed by Nadège Compaoré  “Access to Information in the South African Extractive Sector: International Initiatives and National Bills” atThe Mountain Club of SA, 97 Hatfield Street, Gardens, Cape Town on Monday 18th March 2013 at 5:00 for 5:30 pm Light refreshments will be served before the event Please RSVP to saiia.admin@telkomsa.net or call Pippa on 083 305 2339 Entrance for non-members is R30 or R15 on presentation of a current student identity card. Parking is freely available on Hatfield Street.   Event…
The furore surrounding the mislabelling of meat products in Europe has now also reached South Africa’s shores, with a recent study finding that 99 of 139 meat samples from South African wholesalers and retailers contained species not declared in the product label. The samples included donkey, goat and water buffalo meat.
On 25 February 2013 Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu announced that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) had acceded to the Platinum Sector Peace and Stability Accord, an agreement signed the previous week between government, mining houses and labour aimed at bringing an end to the turmoil in South Africa’s platinum sector. With all major stakeholders now signatory to the agreement, is this the beginning of a return to normality in the platinum sector?
2013 sees South African cities play host to a number of international events. The African Mining Indaba was held in Cape Town earlier this month, and Durban will soon host the much anticipated BRICS Summit this coming March. This week its Johannesburg’s turn to host the Africa Energy Indaba (19 – 21 February 2013), a regional event of the World Energy Council (WEC). The Indaba brings together leading decision makers, role players and experts to discuss how best to plan and develop Africa’s energy future.
Various government, business and civil society representatives gather in Cape Town today for the 19th Annual Investing in Africa Mining Indaba (4 -7 February 2013). The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) will be monitoring discussions and events around the Indaba. Through its Governance of Africa’s Resources Programme, the institute has contributed to the policy discourse on mining issues on the African continent.
On the eve of the 2013 Mining Indaba, resource nationalism remains a serious investment risk which threatens both foreign investors and resource-producing states alike. With growing attention devoted to the subject, it appears that assertive resource-exporting countries in Africa risk alienating international capital. In newly resource-rich states and older producers alike, some proposals ostensibly aimed at maximising society’s benefits from resource extraction have spooked investors. Much discussion at the Indaba this week will touch on the disparate experiences often termed resource nationalism, but it is worth reflecting on what the term really means.
On Sunday 16 December 2012 the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s governing party, will descend on Mangaung to begin its 53rd National Elective Conference. Much of the discourse in the run-up to the anticipated meeting has centred on South Africa’s political economy and what, if anything, the conference can do to address the political quagmire, economic malaise and social instability now besetting the country.
The governance of Africa's natural resources continues to be a heatedly discussed topic. Alex Benkenstein, a senior researcher with SAIIA, speaks with leading researchers about their views on the key issues that need to be addressed to achieve effective governance of Africa’s natural resources. Watch the video [Duration: 8min 16sec] Download the podcast [Duration: 9min 41sec]
SAIIA Policy Briefing No 60, November 2012
The nationalisation of resources has been the subject of heated debate in recent months, both within Africa and beyond. Abroad, the Canadian government’s recent refusal to accept a foreign buy-out of a locally-owned gas exploration company has raised eyebrows. At home, emotive exchanges over the possible nationalisation of the mining sector have dominated the public discourse in the run-up to Mangaung.