OECD Mining Regions and Cities – mission to Alaska, USA

The regional and rural team is now implementing a project for regions and cities which are specialised in mining and extractive industries–this work emerged from an event held in October 2017 in Antofagasta. The project is guided by 3 objectives

  1. Provide a framework for the OECD, the mining industry, national and sub-national governments, and non-government organisations to cooperate on addressing shared challenges related to mining, extractive industries and regional development.
  2. Produce a series of publications that deliver regional specific recommendations and implementation support, and a global tool-kit (benchmarking and guidance, indicators and data, and best practices) to support the implementation of better regional development policies in a mining and extractives context across countries.
  3. Develop a global platform for mining regions and cities through events and peer-review that enable knowledge sharing, advocacy and dialogue between public/private sectors and local communities on better policies to enhance regional productivity and wellbeing.

In April 2018, Chris McDonald (of the OECD’s Regional and Rural Policy team) had the opportunity to participate in an event in Anchorage on rural innovation, and another in Kotzebue, Alaska on Minerals Development in the Arctic where he spoke about this work. The event in Kotzebue was designed to help inform advice that the Arctic Economic Council is preparing on Responsible Minerals Development in the Arctic.

Alaska is a good location to have a discussion about mining, extractive industries, and regional development. Over the past 40 years Alaska has been able to rapidly develop, partly due to its oil and mining industries. The state has developed a strong dependency on this sector for investment, job creation, and public revenues. The decline in commodity prices over recent years has led to discussion about Alaska’s economic future. Local stakeholders are taking proactive steps to understand scope to diversify the economy based on exploiting other areas of competitive advantage (services to oil and mining, tourism, and renewable energy).

The discussion in Kotzebue reinforced how regional development issues are of increasing important to mining companies. Benefit sharing mainly relates to resource rents, local employment and training, and SME procurement opportunities, which are designed to achieve “social license to operate”. The quality of this engagement, and the capacity to manage risks and take advantage of local opportunities, is dependent on the sub-national governance and policy environment. This environment is complex because it relates to multiple portfolios and levels of government e.g. transport infrastructure, education and training, SME development, land use planning, and housing. Benefit sharing, by its nature, is currently done in a relatively narrow sectoral way rather than approaching from the perspective of the territory and its long-term development. The key messages of our work on mining regions gained traction with local stakeholders because it addresses this gap.

For more information contact: Chris McDonald, Policy Analyst

chris.mcdonald@oecd.org

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