This material belongs to: The Telegraph.
The world’s largest mining company will this week launch two new projects to tackle corruption and improve transparency across the industry, issuing a call for greater accountability to “build trust” around the globe.
BHP Billiton is co-funding a scheme with the World Bank to make industry data more accessible to communities affected by mining. It is also working with the Brookings Institution, of Washington DC, to examine whether transparency drives of the past 20 years have actually been effective in showing where the funds from mining go.
Geoff Healy, BHP’s chief external affairs officer, who will unveil the new projects in the US on Monday, told The Daily Telegraph: “There’s nothing more important in getting to a position of trust than transparency… The money we invest has to be fairly shared with the communities with which we work.”
The FTSE 100 mining giant has faced controversies of its own in recent years. Its reputation was badly damaged in 2015 when a dam at an iron ore mine it co-owned in Brazil collapsed, unleashing a flood wave that killed 19 people and polluted a river valley.
Under EU law, natural resource companies are already compelled to report their payments to governments; BHP releases its own report this week. But it was vital to “make sense of all the data that exists around transparency”, Mr Healy said. “Currently, it’s a blancmange of information. It’s zombie data. So how do you make it useful?”
Mr Healy said the Brookings project would consider how companies could do more to stamp out corruption. “Is corruption still rife in certain parts of the world? The answer’s ‘yes’ to that. So why have these transparency initiatives not been more successful?”
BHP is calling on “everyone in the industry” to participate, including governments, which should make their own disclosures. “Citizens must trust that governments and corporations are acting in their best interests,” Mr Healy said.
The campaign comes as the mining industry fights to prove that its activities benefit the wider global community.