Information in a report from Oxfam, the United Church and the Tax Justice Network Australia – Buried treasure – has revealed that mining giants are “secretly moving money” by not publishing enough tax information for anyone to understand their tax payments and practices around the world.
According to Oxfam Australia’s chief executive, Dr Helen Szoke, Australian mining is just one aspect of an “enormous” global problem.
“Our research showed that in Ghana, Perseus Mining has not paid a cent in corporate tax to the Ghanaian government since it began operating the Edikan gold mine in the small, impoverished town of Ayanfuri in 2011 – despite an annual turnover of $250 million in most years of operation,” said Dr Szoke.
The report said that $1.1 billion in profits may have been shifted out of Africa by Australian mining companies using tax havens, which saw them avoid paying $289 million to some of the world’s poorest countries.
“To put this in context, the estimated nearly $300 million lost in 2015 through the unethical tax practices of Australian mining companies is almost seven times the total cost of national malaria control programs in nine of the poorest countries across sub-Saharan Africa,” Dr Szoke highlighted.
The spokesman for the Tax Justice Network Australia, Mark Zirnsak, has called on the government to crack down on these tax havens.
“Australian mining companies rarely reveal enough tax data for the public to easily understand their full global tax practices, and the handful that do primarily do so in response to laws changing in countries other than Australia,” he said.
With the estimated tax avoidance by the Australian mining sector in Africa just one part of what Mr Zirnsak called a global problem, he said “this is simply not good enough”.
“It is time for Australian companies to lead the way on transparency and the government to act to bring an end to this scourge.”
The report did praise countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union, for initiating tougher laws and requirements for companies, citing their demand for greater transparency around what is being taxed by companies and where.
The organisations behind the report considered Australia as “laggard” when it comes to global mandatory tax transparency.
Cameron Micallef is a journalist at Nest Egg, writing primarily about personal wealth and economic markets.
Prior to this, Cameron worked for Australian Associated Press. He graduated from the University of Wollongong with a double degree in communications and commerce.