A new APEC fund has been launched to promote open markets for trade and investment and sustainable development in mining essential to powering transitioning economies across the Asia-Pacific, the world’s largest metal and mineral producing and consuming region.
The APEC Mining Sub-Fund was set in motion with an initial AUD 1.2 million (USD 958,000) contribution from Australia. It will underwrite collaborative projects to guide APEC members in building policy regimes that improve the enabling environment for trade and investment in mining while ensuring inclusive and sustainable growth. Mining officials and the private sector worked out the details during three days of meetings in Cebu.
“We are seeking to improve access to metals and minerals critical to the future of development and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific,” explained Brendan Berne, who is both Australia’s Ambassador and Senior Official for APEC. “Australia has a great deal at stake in mining but is hardly the only one.”
“Rising incomes and consumption in emerging Asia-Pacific markets that are an engine for the global economy have both been fueled by mining and affect mining commodity demand,” noted Ambassador Berne, “The fact that just about any product or service is derived from metals and minerals in one way or another makes ongoing trade and investment in mining an obvious imperative for the region.”
Around 70 per cent of all mining output is produced and consumed in APEC member economies—the home to three billion people and accounting for about 60 per cent of total GDP and much of the world’s growth. This includes the majority of the world’s bauxite, copper, iron, nickel, silver, tin and zinc, among others. Collectively, these resources play a role in everything from home construction, to transportation and digital infrastructure, food production and healthcare.
“Many economies in the region, particularly emerging ones, are blessed with significant mining resources but are not realizing their full potential as a driver of investment, job creation and wage growth due largely to market inefficiencies,” said Rodrigo Urquiza, Chair of the APEC Mining Task Force, which oversees APEC member initiatives within the sector.
“Eliminating trade barriers and sustainability gaps in mining for the good of our people and economies is a top priority for APEC,” continued Urquiza, who is also Director of Research and Public Policy at the Chilean Copper Commission. “Greater local community engagement and environmental protection must be at the center of public and private sector calculations for mining development and is what we are jointly working towards.”
The fund will subsidize information sharing workshops, training and policy research to support these objectives, encapsulated in 10 APEC Mining Policy Principles. Projects under development are also being shaped by the results of a mining capacity building survey conducted in APEC economies as well as officials’ discussions here with industry groups.
Focus is on public-private sector cooperation to promote transparent and efficient regulation and governance; industry education and human resources development; innovation and technology cooperation; and the role of mining equipment, technology and services to broaden and sustain the benefits of mining to economies.
Further emphasis is on building social license to operate mines through community development and fair labor practices; ensuring mine safety and pollution, noise and vibration control; lifecycle management including rehabilitation and post-mine closure; and the empowerment of women within the sector and assessments of potential benefits and gender barriers at a grassroots level.
“Administrative red tape, erratic policy changes, lack of transparent tax regimes, corruption and social discord elevate mining risk and deter foreign investment,” said Jeffrey Hardee, Executive Director, Asia-Pacific Government & Corporate Affairs and Singapore Country Manager at Caterpillar Inc, who is also an alternate member of the APEC Business Advisory Council. “Realizing open, predictable and stable operating environments should be the goal.”
"The APEC Business Advisory Council commissioned an independent study that it is using to share the benefits of mining while identifying best practices to attract mining investment and promote trade,” he concluded. “When you educate host governments about the opportunities and challenges businesses and local communities face in mining development, and work together to address them, it can do a lot to create win-win outcomes that the industry and public are looking out for.”
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