Is the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) sufficient to generate transparency in environmental impact and legacy risks? The Zambian minerals sector
Sequeira, Ana Rita
McHenry, Mark P.
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Developing administrative and financial mechanisms to achieve transparency and compliance with legal frameworks related to mine operation and closure is a major challenge. Ensuring the appropriate level of disclosure, transparency, and accountability of all compliant and non-compliant parties, and accessibility of this information to external interested parties is a cornerstone of achieving a well-governed minerals sector. This research investigates mining company voluntary environmental disclosures in Zambia as an indicator of how the EITI (Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative) may or may not achieve transparency and accountability. Our research findings drew on three sources: literature review, qualitative primary data with EITI and government officials and content analysis to compare public environmental reporting via company websites of a total of 27 mining companies operating in Zambia. Our analysis found that non-EITI and EITI selected companies disclose similar provisions for environmental liabilities at country, subsidiary, or multinational level. While EITI compliance may improve the environmental financial disclosure by mining companies, the detail and specificity of the voluntarily disclosed information is insufficiently transparent to third parties investigating whether governments and companies are compliant with the law in terms of environmental and governance considerations. We propose solutions to achieve transparency in practice by linking aggregated international voluntary initiatives (akin to the EITI) with mandatory jurisdiction-level reforms in mining financial securities and mine closure legislation accounted at the tenement level that is publicly available. Such reforms enable both independent accounting of financial transactions and improved national capacity for minerals sector governance that attracts international investment and incentivises an innovative, environmentally sustainable, and an economically beneficial mining industry