Mozambique says miners must give as well as take
Large mining companies must take responsibility for their activities in Mozambique, and that includes giving back to local communities.
Mozambique Mineral Resources Minister Esperanca Bias said her country needed to properly benefit from extractive industries.
This year, Rio Tinto, the world's second biggest mining company, was forced to write down the value of its coal reserves in Mozambique's Tete province by $3 billion after the government prevented it taking coal, by barge, from the company's mine down the Zambezi River. Instead, the government wants the miner to build a railway line to a new port at Macuse on the east coast.
"Mineral resources are not renewable," Dr Bias said in Sydney on Monday.
"How they are removed from the surface, [from] underground or [the] water may only be done once, but the impacts of that removal shall forever impact the natural and economic environment."
Her comments come as Rio Tinto is being considered as one of six potential candidates to win a $3 billion railway and port infrastructure project in Mozambique, and after news that the company was planning to reduce its workforce in the country because of the write-down.
The government was developing a policy on corporate social responsibility and Mozambique was determined to play a leading role in the regulatory oversight of environmental protection, Dr Bias said, "[but] mining companies must take responsibility for their activities".
"Oversight of environmental impacts, [and] emergency, preparedness, mine safety and resource management is essential and the relevant capacity must be built."
Mozambique became a member of the extractive industries transparency initiative in October last year, which supports greater transparency in the extractives' sectors of resource-rich countries.
Australia is a donor to the initiative.
AusAID will have contributed $17.45 million between 2007 and 2015.