By Julius N. Uma
June 18, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan should expedite its mining legislation as a mechanism to address transparency accountability and proper management in the country’s mining sector, Tim Fischer, the special envoy to the Australian prime minister, said on Friday.
- Australia’s delegation to South Sudan, led by Tim Fischer, at a press briefing in Juba, 15 June 2012 (ST)
The existence of such a law, Fischer told journalists, will directly increase employment for the country’s citizens, generate extra revenue and enhance the provision of training needs to build the capacity of government employees.
“Your benchmark mining legislation of 76 pages is now almost through the Parliament and that will be a green light signal to the world that South Sudan is ready for responsible mining development,” Fischer told a media briefing in Juba, the South Sudan’s capital.
He described South Sudan as one of the “most exciting” provinces in the world in terms of its mineral potential, adding that the Australian government will provide a great deal of “practical” assistance through provision of short courses as well as supporting South Sudan’s bid to join the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and Mining for Development Initiative (MDI).
Australia, Fischer said, is the second largest world producer of minerals such as gold, iron, uranium and diamonds. At least 240 Australian companies are reportedly operating throughout Africa continent, he said.
An estimated $29m has been earmarked by the Australian government to boost South Sudan’s mining, agriculture and health sectors this year. In the last few months, however, Australia also extended $12m for humanitarian assistance in the world’s newest nation.
Elizabeth James Bol, South Sudan’s deputy minister for petroleum and mining lauded what she described as the strong partnership between Australia and South Sudan calling for further technical cooperation and economic development between the two nations.
Acknowledging South Sudan’s huge economic potential, Bol said enactment of the Mining Bill will foster the government’s efforts in improving the industry, through capacity building of staff capacity, improving accountability and fighting corruption.
Over $4 billion of government money is estimated to have stolen since South Sudan gained self-rule in 2005 as part of a peace deal with Khartoum. The same deal allowed South Sudan to secede from Sudan last year.
“Once we have the mining laws in place and with the support from the Australian government, we shall be able to come up with actions plans that help us develop the mining industry so the social services are provided to our people,” she said.
The Australian government has announced plans to send a strategic mineral advisor to South Sudan’s petroleum and mining industry. The proposed advisor, earmarked from the Adam Smith International will reportedly help the government in drawing up action plans, help arrange study tours, and assist in dissemination of the mining laws.