Australian High Commission
Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros, Reunion Island (consular)

Ambassador's Speech - Workshop on Policy and Capacity Building for a Successful and Sustainable Mining Sector


Hon Mr Ying Vah Zafilahy, Minister attached to the Presidency, in charge of Mining & Petroleum


Dr Rick Rogerson, Executive Director Resource Tenure, Resource Tenure Division  , W.A. Department of Mines, Industry Regulation & Safety


Dr Danielle Risbey, Team Leader, Environmental Compliance Branch, , Resource & Environmental Compliance Division, W.A. Department of Mines, Industry Regulation & Safety


Australian Alumni from Madagascar


Distinguished guests


Ladies and gentlemen





I am pleased to be able to speak at this Workshop on Policy and Capacity Building for a Successful and Sustainable Mining Sector today at the impressive Mining Business Centre.


Making the most of our respective rich endowments of natural resources is central to the economic and social wellbeing of Australia and Madagascar.


So why Australia?


Australian Best Practice

  • Australia has some of the world’s largest minerals reserves, including in lead, nickel, uranium and zinc. We are a world leader in the production of bauxite, alumina and a major producer of iron ore, gold, lead, coal, silver and copper.
  • For more than160 years, beginning with the gold rush of the 19th century and including the development of our iron ore deposits in the Pilbara, Western Australia, from the 1960s, we have been developing our expertise as a mining nation.
  • We also have some of the world’s best mining equipment, technology and services firms, the so-called “METS” firms. METS firms help to make mines run smoothly by providing the required technological infrastructure, including engineering services, consulting and analytical work. Their skills underpin the success of Australian mining by ensuring mine safety, production efficiency and sustainability.
  • One of the key qualities of Australian mining companies is the way they combine profitability with concern for safety, the environment and the local community.
  • Careful management of local fauna and flora, environmental monitoring, and the management of waste and water creates greater trust in the ability of mining to contribute to national prosperity. They are all part of fostering good relations with local communities. Creating that goodwill underpins economic growth.


Australian Mining in Africa

  • We see mining offering the same economic opportunities in Madagascar, where there is a positive and constructive role for Australian mining firms, sharing technological expertise and their occupational, health and safety standards, environmental standards and community liaison.


  • There is significant Australian investment in Africa’s mining sector with over 170 Australian Stock Exchange listed companies invested in more than 400 projects in 35 countries across the continent- including important investment in Madagascar.
    • It is in the interest of Australian companies investing in Africa, and in the interest of Australian shareholders, that African economies develop in a sustainable and inclusive way.
  • Ensuring best practice in environmental management and the occupational health and safety of mine workers; and building effective relationships with the communities in which we operate - including through job opportunities for locals - are important whether you are mining in Australia or Madagascar.
  • Last year, the Australian Senate conducted an inquiry into the trade and investment relationship with African countries, reflecting the growing interest of Australians in investing in and doing business with Africa
  • In particular, I wanted to share some insights from the submission by former senior trade official Grame Barty regarding global competitiveness
    • Mr Barty pointed out that African countries will need to compete with other markets to attract Australian – in fact any - investment and business engagement
  • Issues that can have a dampening effect on markets or countries include lack of sufficient skills and local talent, opaque business practices, bribery and corruption, as well as security issues such as terrorism, civil unrest and crime.
  • I’d like to stress that the contribution that Australian investment can make to Madagascar far outweighs any contribution the Australian Government can make through our development program
    • because while the Australian Government can support human capacity development, share our experiences with governments and promote best practice and policy harmonisation – it is investment that can lead to new job opportunities, skills development and opportunities for local businesses.
    • and attractive investment destinations are ones with transparent and stable regulatory regimes to reduce risk and uncertainty.

Australian Development Assistance to Madagascar

  • Australia’s Development Assistance to Madagascar consists mainly of Capacity building though such things as the workshop here today; Australia Awards scholarships and our community level small grants.
  • We also work with the government of Madagascar to identify priority sectors for our Australia Awards, to ensure they remain relevant to the country’s development needs. This is why our Australia Awards scholarship program for Madagascar has a large focus on mining governance.
  • Since 2012, over 100 Awards have been funded by the Australian Government, the majority of Awardees were female. There are currently nine Scholarships (Master awardees studying in Australia). The University of Queensland will again run the short course on local social economic development in the mining sector – with Madagascar to host awardees in September.
  • Once a student returns from Australia the real work begins, and we are delighted with the energy and dedication of the Madagascan alumni who have returned home to become agents of change, and are giving back to the Madagascan community through successful workshops and community projects. I am pleased that you will have the opportunity to meet many of them tomorrow night and see how brilliant they are, at Speaker Series, after the conference close.
  • One of the projects Australia has helped to fund, with GIZ, is a women’s artisanal mining workshop – I am lucky enough to be officially opening the workshop in Sakahara on Monday. The workshop is allowing women’s associations to produce and display fashion jewellery made of semi-precious and precious stones. The workshop gives women a chance to learn new skills and sell their jewels – so they will be able to support their families.
  • Empowering women in the mining industry is vital to Madagascar’s long term growth as studies have found, when more women work, economies grow. And promoting women’s economic empowerment is a key priority of the Australian government’s foreign, trade and development policy agenda including through regional organisations like the IORA – Indian Ocean Rim Association.

Development assistance

  • Australia supports a number of other multilateral programs and institutions to promote greater transparency and ensuring a sustainable development in the mining centre including the extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Kimberley Process.
  • Australia also funds the IMF Managing Natural Resources Wealth Trust Fund and provides core funding to the Extractives Transparency Initiative Secretariat.


    International engagement


  • Significantly, the Australian Government requires Australian companies to adhere to obligations that Australia has accepted in international treaties
    • For example, Australia is a Party to the UN Convention Against Corruption and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, and has long criminalised the bribery of foreign public officials
    • Those offences apply extraterritorially, meaning that they apply to the activities of Australians, and Australian businesses, overseas as much as they do back home.
  • Australian companies in the main have earned a justified reputation for good corporate social responsibility practices – at home and abroad.
  • Having said all this, Australia is a partner that understands that while we have a wealth of experience to share, building a strong resource sector  and ensuring good governance and resilient communities takes constant effort
    • this has been highlighted recently by the report into mining approvals processes by Transparency International.
  • As with any industry, new technologies, techniques and better practices are being developed all the time, and governments and industry have to adapt to these changes constantly.



  • I look forward to an interesting workshop and am pleased that the Australian Government, through the Western Australian Government and the Madagascan Ministry of Mines have been able to come together under the COMESA to conduct this workshop series, of which Madagascar is the first, which we have will help African countries to ensure tangible developmental outcomes from their mineral endowments.


Thank you.


31 May 2018, Mining Business Centre, Antananarivo