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Mining and Environment in Africa

Mining and Environment in Africa



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Published by Zambian-Economist
June 2009 United Nations Environmental Programme
June 2009 United Nations Environmental Programme

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Published by: Zambian-Economist on Dec 04, 2009
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Thomson Sinkala
For the
UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMMEDivision of Technology, Industry, and EconomicsSustainable Consumption and Production Branch
June 2009
I wish to thank UNEP for supporting this study. I also wish to thank Dr. Desta Mebratu of UNEPand the UNECA members of staff Mr. Antonio Pedro, Ms. Tarik Kassa, Dr. Strike Mkandla andMs. M. Desta for their valuable comments as well as provision of literature. I wish to thank Mr.Fui Tsikata for his detailed scrutiny of this report. I also wish to thank all members of the ISG, in particular Prof. Bonnie K. Campbell, Ms. Lois Hooge, Mr. Mensan Lawson-Hechelli, Dr. PaulJourdan, Dr. Hudson Mtegha and Mr. Mkhululi Ncube for assistance with literature.
The conclusions and opinions expressed in the report do not necessarily reflect the position of the United Nations Environment Programme.
This study is a comprehensive review report on mining and the environment in Africa. The studyalso looks at underlying reasons why Africa is failing to maximize benefits from the industry,and presents suggestions to reverse this trend.Africa houses a vast array of minerals and is a world leader for some of these. Minerals areamong the most valuable exports of Africa, and about 24 (45%) (see Figure below) of the 53African countries rely on the industry as the largest exports from their countries, thus earningthese countries foreign exchange for various socio-economic activities. Mining industry providesrevenues, jobs, school and health facilities, and stimulates development of vital socio-economicinfrastructure such as electricity, roads, railways and telecommunications.With only about 7 (13%) of the African countries carrying out some form of value addition to theminerals (See Figure below), the continent is at present a producer of primary mineral productswhich she exports to industrialized countries. Meanwhile, most pollution occurs at primary levelin the minerals value chain. About 98% of resource flows in the form of excavation residuesoccur in production countries
. This means that Africa retains the environmental burden whichalso reduces her already little earnings from minerals. For copper, for instance, a study
hasrevealed that the realistic price paid by EU copper buyers to EU primary copper producers has been determined to be 33% less than they should have normally paid. The study also found thatthespecific external costs for primary copper production differ also significantly betweenregions. In Africa, Botswana, Congo DR, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambiaand Zimbabwe were in 2005 listed as copper producers. These countries are largely primarycopper producers and, apart from South Africa and possibly Morocco, their environmentalmanagement standards of copper production are, on average, not likely to be as high as in EU.The factor of external cost estimate for these African countries with reference to EU is thereforemuch higher, possibly ranging from 1.6 to 3.1 (or higher) estimated for South Americancountries and Russia.The Figure below shows that 96% of the 53 African countries are emitting green house gases(GHGs). Data for Somalia and Equatorial Guinea could not be found. In the African countries producing cement (58%) and coal (25%), and also those countries with large scale operationsrunning non-cement processing plants (68%), the GHGs are likely to be significant. Apart fromestimates of emissions based on coal for South Africa, quantitative information to directlyattribute the emissions to mining activities could however not be found. To minimize energyrelated impacts, effort should be directed at development and utilization of renewable energysources includinghydro power, liquid biofuels, wind, solar and tidal wave.
Kuhndt M, Tessema F, and Martin H. 2008.
“Global Value Chain Governance for Resource EfficiencyBuilding Sustainable Consumption and Production Bridges across the Global Sustainability Divides”.Environmental Research, Engineering and Management, 2008. No. 3(45), P. 33-41.
Stäheli ME. 2008.
External Costs in the European Copper Value Chain
A Comparison of Copper PrimaryProduction and Recycling”. MSc Thesis, MAS Management Technology and Economics MTEC/BWI, SwissFederal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland. May.

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