Corruption risks: mining approvals in Australia

October 2017

October 2017

Understanding corruption risks in the mining approvals process is vital to ensuring mining contributes to sustainable development, and shared benefits.

If corruption risks are identified, and acted upon, before mining activities get underway, better outcomes for impacted communities, the natural environment and all citizens, can be achieved.

Corruption Risks: Mining Approvals in Australia documents the existing system of checks and balances that require transparency and accountability in the exploration license, and mining lease, approvals regime in Australia.

A key risk identified for large scale mining and coordinated projects (associated infrastructure), is inadequate due diligence investigation into the character and integrity of applicants for mining approvals. This includes a lack of investigation of beneficial ownership.

Without adequate due diligence, even basic research into the track record of mining applicants, there is a risk that permits will be awarded to companies with a history of non- compliance or corruption, including in their operations in other countries.

The risk assessment also identified a high potential for industry influence and state and policy capture in the awarding of mining approvals. Greater regulation of political donations, lobbyists and the movement of staff between government and industry, would help reduce risks that could enable corruption to occur.

While Australia has systems of transparency and accountability in place, more needs to be done to address transparency of negotiation processes and agreements, including native title parties.

This report is an essential resource for government, industry, civil society, and the public – those with an interest in ensuring mining contributes to economic, social, and environmental prosperity.

It shines a light on the corruption vulnerabilities in the mining approvals process, and provides a roadmap for better policy and practice.