MEPs call for sustainable mining not compatible with increased EIB role, says Counter Balance

Strasbourg – The European Parliament adopted the Bütikofer report (1) on the Commission’s Raw Materials Initiative today. The report calls for strict standards and transparency in mining activities and the need for development in the host country. It specifically asks the European Investment Bank (EIB), which has a record of supporting controversial mining projects on behalf of the EU (2), to improve its assessment of the projects’ impact on development. Counter Balance questions that the EIB – which already invested over EUR 750 million in ACP countries since 2000 is envisaged to play an even bigger role in the European Raw Materials Strategy – can deliver on these demands.

“In the report we ask the European Commission to consider more rigorously whether projects contribute to poverty eradication, sustainable development and inclusive growth before deciding on supporting the extractive industries sector in developing countries”, says the Belgian MEP Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D).

Anne-Sophie Simpere, raw materials specialist for Counter Balance: “We share the MEPs’ concerns that these conditions are not sufficiently addressed in the Commission’s communications and strategies such as the Raw Materials Initiative (RMI). We monitor raw materials projects financed by the European Investment Bank, which is granted a crucial role by the Commission in its strategy for access to raw materials and we don’t think it is the right institution to deliver on mining that supports the development of mining countries.”

She adds: “We see that several projects supported by the bank such as the Mopani Copper Mine in Zambia, the Ambatovy Nickel Mine in Madagascar and several others had clear negative effects on both development and environmental level. Thus we are very much concerned if the role of the EIB in financing mining projects should be even increased. Generally the Raw Materials Initiative seems to us to be mostly about securing EU demands, which contradicts the stated development goals.”

MEPs share the doubts: In May over 50 MEPs already called into question the ability of the EIB to deal with mining projects in an open letter which called for a “moratorium on EU public financing for mining projects until adequate standards and regulations are in place.” Van Brempt deplores that a similar recommendation of the development committee did not make it to the final text but nevertheless calls on the EIB to “take our clear recommendations on sustainability into account and put them into practice in current and future projects.”

“If the EU wants to be coherent with its development and environmental polices we think it should reconsider the role of the EIB in supporting the mining sector, as we believe it is not the appropriate institution to carry out this task”, Simpere concludes.

Notes for editors

(1)    The latest version of the full text of the ITRE committee is available at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&mode=XML&reference=A7-2011-0288&language=EN

(2)    see notably “Row over European Union loans to miners deepens after latest revelations” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/search.html?s=y&authornamef=Rob+Davies

For further information please contact:

Anne-Sophie Simpere

as.simpere@amisdelaterre.org

+33 (0)148 511 898

Berber Verpoest

press@counterbalance-eib.org

+32 (0)2 893 10 35

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