May 2024

COllaborating for greater transparency in green minerals mining

Five people from around the world—all flying into Melbourne, Australia—with one thing in common.

Karina from Colombia, Bright from Zambia, Fadzai from Zimbabwe, Gita from Indonesia, and Eugenia from Argentina are all from countries where the energy transition is shaping up their mining sector. As the renewable energy transition speeds up and countries race to meet their climate targets, the race for green minerals like lithium, cobalt, and nickel to power that transition is on. However, this brings with it new integrity challenges and corruption risks for the mining value chain.

Image: Group photo of participants at CERES Environment Park on Day 2 of Inception Workshop. Pictured from left to right (front): Dr Ana Estefania Carballo, Fadzai Jekemu, Gita Ayu Atikah, Karina Andrea Cruz Parra. Pictured left to right (back): Dr Antonia Settle, Bright Chizonde, Roman Davas-Fahey and Eugenia Navarro Cafferata. Photo credit: Hansika Bhagani

The group of five was in Melbourne to participate in a week-long inception workshop hosted by Transparency International Australia. They aimed to return to their own countries with a plan for engaging with mining companies to work on the United States Agency for International Development’s Powering a Just Energy Transition Green Minerals Challenge (JET Minerals Challenge) project, and support stronger governance for green minerals mining.

Fadzai was one of the participants from Zimbabwe. The green minerals transition in Zimbabwe has huge potential she says, but it needs to be managed carefully.

“There are so many opportunities for Zimbabwe—from this mining, it can grow the economy further,” Fadzai said.

As part of this project, Fadzai will be working with mining companies in Zimbabwe to pilot the updated, online Responsible Mining Business Integrity (RMBI) Tool, which offers companies involved in green minerals extraction a flexible, effective, and systematic approach to identify corruption risks and strengthen their integrity and anti-corruption standards.

“We hope that it will be assisting the mining companies as well as our government to mine in a very open way and to maximize the benefit of the mineral resources for the betterment of the country including for the communities in which these mines extract from.”

Fadzai Jekemu from TI Zimbabwe speaking on day two of inception workshop, presenting on critical minerals governance challenges in Zimbabwe and what the group can learn from them

Zimbabwe is perceived to be a highly corrupt country, scoring just 24 out of 100 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories around the globe by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, scoring on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

“We are performing well below the regional average for Africa of 33,” says Fadzai. “We still have a lot of work to do. As a nation, we have made strides in anti-corruption work— – but we need a review of our Mines and Minerals Act to include a focus on transparency and accountability. Zimbabwe is also a country that has not signed onto the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.”

By becoming a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), countries commit to disclose information along the extractive industry value chain – from how extraction rights are awarded, to how revenues make their way through government and how they benefit the public. Through participation in the EITI, more than 50 countries have agreed to a common set of rules governing what has to be disclosed and when – the EITI Standard.

For Fadzai, and other participants, the workshop was an opportunity to solidify their plans to engage with companies and share their experiences with their colleagues who will also be part of the JET Minerals Challenge.

“I would like to learn a lot from the countries that are implementing the JET Minerals Challenge,” says Fadzai. “There are a lot of things that different countries are doing that can be shared and learnt from.  The speed of the energy transition is a new phenomenon in the mining sector, and we also need to add speed to ensure it’s done without corruption.”