Mining contract transparency improves local planning in Mali | Land Portal

Weighing gold (Photo: Enough Project, via FlickrCC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Deed)

In Mali, a civil society coalition worked with communities to achieve greater transparency on gold mining contracts and to hold authorities and companies to account. Their aim: to turn Mali’s mining sector into a lever for socio-econmic development and improve living conditions around mining sites. 

Nouhoum Diakite charts a success story, with limitations…

Since 2020, people living near the Syama gold mine in Mali have been involved in drawing up their commune's Social, Economic and Cultural Development Plan (PDSEC) and have monitored its implementation. Community development actions initiated by the mining company are drawn directly from the development plan, after consultation with the local administrative authorities and local community representatives. 

This process is the result of work by the Malian civil society coalition Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez (Publish what you pay), which has campaigned for the publication of mining contracts and supported the community to monitor the legal and contractual obligations of mining companies and manage the revenues generated by mining and earmarked for local development.

The Syama mine example shows how improving investment governance can, if leveraged successfully, lead to better outcomes for communities affected by large investment projects such as mines, dams and industrial farming. 

 

Mali’s gold attracts international investors

The Syama mine is a large open-pit and underground gold mining and processing complex in south-eastern Mali. Syama is in the district of Fourou, an agricultural/pastoralist region. Eight villages surround the mine.

Artisanal miners have worked the area’s gold fields for centuries; international investors arrived in the late 1980s. Operations ceased at the mine between 2001 and 2019 when it was acquired by the Australian gold mining company Resolute Mining.

The mine is operated via the subsidiary Société des Mines de Syama S.A. (SOMISY), in which Resolute has an 80% interest, while the government of Mali holds the remaining 20%.

 

Civil society calls for mining contracts to be published 

Since 2007, Mali has been implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global standard that promotes transparency and accountability in the extractive sector. 

Based on the relevant provisions of the 2013 (PDF) and 2016 EITI Standard (PDF), PWYP Mali (which sits on the EITI steering committee) has undertaken advocacy to ensure that all mining contracts in Mali are published. 

In 2021, after PWYP Mali published a report denouncing the opacity surrounding mining contracts, the Mali EITI steering committee made publication of mining contracts mandatory. 

 

Making use of contracts to claim rights

Citizens can only monitor mining companies' contractual obligations if the contracts are published and when they have the technical capacities to understand and analyse them. PWYP Mali organised capacity-building sessions on reading and analysing mining contracts, based on the 12 mining contracts (in French) already published on the website of the Malian Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water (in French), for communities living near mining sites. 

In Farou, these activities began in 2017 with the setting up of a working group on mining issues (inclusive of women, young people, men, grassroots community organisations and traditional authorities). 

The working group was equipped with technical capacities to enable them to read and understand the March 2019 establishment agreement (PDF in French) between the government of Mali and SOMISY for the exploitation of the Syama gold deposits. The programme also supported the community's active participation in decision-making bodies at the commune level.

 

Creating the conditions for free and informed dialogue between stakeholders at local level 

Without the commitment of the local authorities and the mining company, it would have been difficult for the communities to participate fully in decision-making bodies at the communal level and to engage in productive dialogue with the mining company for the benefit of all the people of the Fourou locality. 

PWYP Mali initiated a dialogue with the head of community development at the Syama mine and with local elected representatives. 

With the mining company, the aim was to explain the merits of ongoing dialogue with local communities, to encourage the mining company to apply the provisions of the 2012 mining code relating to participation in local development, and to encourage the mining company to align its local development plan with that of the municipality so as to respond effectively to the needs already identified by the community. 

As for local elected representatives, PWYP wanted to encourage them to involve local communities more closely in drawing up local development plans.

 

 

 

Relevant Navigator resources

International Accountability Project’s guide COMMUNITY-ACTION GUIDE: WHAT IS DEVELOPMENT?

  • This guide encourages communities to discover what development means for themselves and to question whether proposed plans and activities truly fit within their definition of and priorities for development. With activities, stories, and practical tools, this guide introduces community-led development and supports communities in claiming their right to development.

The Legal Resources Centre’s PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR MINING-AFFECTED COMMUNITIES

  • This guide highlights the steps that concerned parties and communities can take to address the challenges that mining poses on communities. It gives communities the tools they need to understand the law that governs mining and to protect their rights. Although it focuses on South Africa, the tools proposed will be relevant for communities facing similar issues in other countries.

CCSI’s BRIEFING FOR GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATIONS – BRIDGING THE INFORMATION GAP: HOW ACCESS TO LAND CONTRACTS CAN SERVE COMMUNITY RIGHTS

  • This note provides guidance for civil society actors and communities on how to access and how to use the information contained in contracts with companies to be able to:
    • Understand company and government obligations related to a company project;
    • Monitor whether those obligations are being fulfilled;
    • old companies and the government to account for bad contracts or for failing to deliver on commitments that are important to communities.

Namati’s guide on Groundtruthing

  • This guide aims to help community organisers and paralegals to use the method of “ground-truthing” to collect information about operations that might be illegal, prohibited or causing harm. It is a useful tool to monitor the impacts of investments and the proper implementation of agreements and contracts.

Relevant themes

Benefit sharing; Community preparedness; Conflict resolution; Consultation and FPIC; Grievances and redress; Investor compliance

 

About the Blog Series

This blog is part of the ‘Navigating the challenges of land-based investment’ series, which is jointly edited by Land Portal and IIED, with funding from FCDO, as part of the ALIGN project. Other blogs in the series can be found here.

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