About 80 participants representing over 30 countries participated in the Intergovernmental
Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals, and Sustainable Development (IGF) held from 24-26
November at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The Forum, hosted by UNCTAD, is an outcome
of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg in 2002. The
IGF is the only global intergovernmental policy forum in the mining/metal sector. It is a
voluntary initiative officially established in 2005 by national governments interested in
promoting good governance in the management of mineral resources.
On behalf of the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, the meeting was opened by Harmon Thomas,
Head of UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities, who noted the renewed importance of
commodities under UNCTAD’s mandate and the development opportunities that commodities
can provide to developing countries. He reiterated UNCTAD’s support for the Forum.
This year’s meeting focused on fiscal and legislative frameworks as they relate to investment
decisions, revenue sharing, mine closure and abandoned mines, as well as the contribution of the
IGF to the upcoming United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) 201011 that will review progress in the mining sector’s contribution to WSSD’s Johannesburg Plan of
Implementation. Delegates noted the recent significant drop in commodity prices and growing
metal stocks due to reduced demand. While this will impact investment in new mining ventures
in the short term, there is confidence that this situation will be temporary. Continued growth in
many developing countries will again stimulate demand and drive prices up, although possibly
not to the highs of recent years.
Presentations by representatives of both the World Bank-hosted Community and Small Scale
Mining (CASM) initiative and the Belgian Royal Institute of International Affairs focused on
artisanal mining. Delegates reaffirmed that understanding miners’ perspectives is critical for
effective progress and for build on existing structures.
Members recognized the importance of transparency in mineral resources governance. In this
context they expressed support for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The
Minister of Mines and Energy of Ethiopia, Alemayehu Tegenu, announced that “Ethiopia wants
to become a member of EITI in order to help our country maximize the benefits of our mineral
An in-depth discussion of fiscal and legislative frameworks reviewed different forms of royalties
and taxes related to mining and the implications of each for governments and industry. Clearly,
there is not one optimum approach for all countries. Specific needs and the management capacity
-2of each country will likely dictate the selected approach. Governments have to ensure that they
have the financial expertise to monitor and analyze company reports to ensure that companies
pay the taxes they owe. The Minister of Mineral Resources of Sierra Leone, Abubakar Jalloh,
stressed that “discussions at the Forum have been extremely helpful to Sierra Leone, especially
given that it is currently reviewing its mining agreements.”
Delegates were informed about a new specific tax law implemented in Chile and the process that
led to its development. The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) shared the
conclusions of its multi-stakeholder Resource Endowment Initiative. The findings showed the
extent of and varied benefits that mining has generated in some countries, locally and nationally.
The Vice Minister of Mining from Peru, Mr. Isasi, stated that…”mining is a significant
contribution to the attainment to the Millennium Development Goals and a process of converting
natural into other forms of sustainable capital .”
Delegates reviewed the most recent developments in dealing with mine closures including
orphaned and abandoned mines in different jurisdictions around the world. Experiences were
shared by the Post Mining Alliance, the Blacksmith Institute, and Anglo-American. Participants
expressed the view that increased support from the mining industry and the international
community will be required to address this serious problem effectively.
Of critical importance to the IGF members is the development of a strategy for reporting
progress to the special session of the UNCSD 2010-11, which will focus on the mining/metal
contribution to sustainable development. Members committed to prepare national reports on the
importance of mining to growth and poverty reduction in their countries.
As a follow-up to the Heiligendamm G8 Summit in 2007, representatives from the EU and
Germany shared information on the EU “Communication on the sustainable access to nonenergy raw materials for the European economy” and Germany’s “Initiative for Certified
Trading Chains” being carried out as a pilot project in Africa’s Great Lakes region.
This year’s accession to the IGF of Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Peru, and Sierra Leone
brought Forum membership to forty-two. Prospective members present at the meeting included
Chile, Ecuador, and Germany. Financial support for the Forum was provided by Natural
Resources Canada, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, and the
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada. Support was also provided by
For further information, please contact:
Jonathan Hobbs,
Senior Policy Advisor,
UK Department for International Development
Tel: 44 (0)2070230896
Email: j-hobbs
Rouben Indjikian
Deputy Head,
Special Unit on Commodities
UNCTAD, Switzerland
Tel: 41-22-917-5838
Email: [email protected]