Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mining in South Sudan

The US Institute of Peace published in April 2013 a report titled "Establishing a Mining Sector in Postwar South Sudan."  The authors are David K. Deng, research director for the South Sudan Law Society, Paul Mertenskoetter, a student at New York University School of Law, and Luuk van de Vondervoort, who works for the Bonn International Center for Conversion in South Sudan.

The study explains that the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining granted companies licenses to conduct exploration over exceedingly large areas of land.  Some promising areas were even awarded to multiple companies.  Bureaucratic failures led to a considerable amount of confusion among public and private sector actors.  To halt the unregulated distribution of mining rights and permit time for the government to establish its regulatory framework, the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly put in place a moratorium on mining licenses in November 2010.

In December 2012, the President of South Sudan signed a new Mining Act.  This was a welcome step forward but still left room for political influence over decision making, particularly with regard to the granting of licenses, the distribution of benefits from mining ventures, and the applicable standards governing the expropriation of individually and community owned land.

The report concludes that the government and its partners in the private sector should not proceed with any mining activities unless they have secured the free, prior, and informed consent of affected individuals and groups.  The military must be prohibited from engaging in commercial activities in the mining sector, and constitutional post holders should not operate mining companies.  All government decision making must be subject to open and transparent public review, and the benefits of South Sudan's land and mineral wealth must be shared equitably among all the parties involved.

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