An initiative to set up an African mineral resource classification system to harmonise exploitation across the continent, is now underway.
The framework seeks to enhance regional cooperation in management of all energy and mineral resources on land, continental shelf and seabed.
It also attempts to enhance efficiency and sustainability in exploitation of mineral resources and fossil fuels.
It is being spearheaded by the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), a body under the African Union to enhance socio-economic benefits of mineral resources to African countries and avoiding the “resource curse”.
The framework is being customised from the United Nations Frameworks Classification for Fossil Energy and Mineral Reserves and Resources (UNFC).
“Adopting the UN model in the African context can be a tool to achieve transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources for broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development for the region,” said Kaiser de Souza, chief of geology and mineral information at AMDC.
He said the new classification system could add value to decision-making for investment and governance along the mining value chain in African countries.
Additionally, the facilitation and harmonisation of international best practices to generate and interpret geological information consistently across African countries can lead to the emergence of Pan-African commodity exchanges.
According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the continent is well endowed with mineral resources and has a long history of mining, but has so far not reaped the developmental benefits from the resources.
This is largely due to the weak integration of Africa’s mining sector into national economic and social activities, it said.
The workshop that will bring about the establishment of the new framework will be held in Egypt at the beginning of October.
It is set to bring together professionals from African extractive industries and international experts in resource classification.
The meeting is also expected to reach out to functional professional bodies in mineral, petroleum and renewable industries in Africa for collaborations on the proposed activities.
Africa is richly endowed with mineral reserves and ranks top in quantities of bauxite, cobalt, industrial diamond, phosphate rocks and platinum group metals among others.
Gold mining is Africa’s main mining resource.Regarding oil and gas, it is estimated that 57 per cent of Africa’s export earnings come from hydrocarbons. Proven oil reserves have grown by almost 150 per cent, increasing from 53.4 billion barrels since 1980 to 130.3 billion barrels by the end of 2012.
But exploitation of mineral and energy resources in the continent often goes unchecked leading to negative environmental and social impact.