Australia Embraces EITI Globally and at Home

Issue: EITI
Country: Australia
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Two Australian ministers announced an important development for mining transparency today, with news that the country will pilot the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)—a probable step towards likely full EITI implementation.

At the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, hosted this year in Perth, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson explained that, beginning in July 2012, Australia will assess its financial reporting standards for the oil, gas and mining industries against EITI standards. They said they hoped that Australia's example embracing the initiative would encourage resource-rich countries around the world to adopt EITI.

"Transparency and accountability are key for developing countries to reap the full benefits of their resource sector. Well regulated, the sector can not only provide economic growth but also broader development benefits by funding basic services like health and education," said Minister Rudd.

At the same meeting, the ministers also announced that Australia will contribute $12.7 million toward global EITI implementation, and assist developing countries "with the technical challenges" of implementation.

"This support from the Australian government can offer resource-rich countries the means to finance their own development by increasing the effectiveness of mining regulations," said Revenue Watch Deputy Director Suneeta Kaimal "Taken with Australia's embrace of EITI in its own practices, it shows that developing countries are willing to practice what they preach about oil and mining transparency."

Australia, which has a significant mining sector, will be the third developed nation to implement or pilot EITI. Norway was accepted as EITI compliant in March 2011, and the United States declared its plans to join last month.

The news comes just days after Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the Australian Mining Initiative, a new resource for developing countries seeking to use mineral wealth for sustainable economic growth, drawing on government, industry and academic expertise. Among other activities, the initiative will provide mining scholarships, facilitate government-to-government capacity building, and support civil society groups focused on sustainable mining.

"We want to make sure resource-rich developing countries use opportunities generated by mining to create much needed education and job opportunities for some of the world's most vulnerable people," said Gillard. "Well-governed mining, gas and petroleum sectors can not only help reduce poverty but also reduce a developing country's dependency on aid."

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