Mining Journal: Time to move on – Open-access regulation key to unlocking shared-use infrastructure

January 2016
Glen Ireland, InfraShare Partners
Paul Collier, Blavatnik School of Government,
University of Oxford

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Click here to access the article on the Mining Journal website.

“Open Access” Regulation is Key to Unlocking Shared-Use Mining Infrastructure

Paul Collier and Glen Ireland[*]

Resource-rich countries, development agencies and commentators have for years highlighted the potential to achieve “win-win” outcomes through the sharing of rail, port and other infrastructure required for mining operations.  Despite this opportunity, relatively few examples of shared mining infrastructure can be seen in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. In our recent article Shared-Use Mining Infrastructure: Why it Matters, and How to Achieve it[†] we consider the cases for and against regulating for “open access” to bulk mining logistics infrastructure. We argue that countries should impose such regulation in almost all cases, although governments (particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa) should not underestimate the policymaking and governance challenges involved.

In sub-Saharan Africa, opportunities for shared-use bulk mining infrastructure abound.  For example, Read More

Maximising Economic Recovery of Offshore UK Petroleum: Draft Strategy for Consultation

January 2016
Glen Ireland and Mark Aplin, InfraShare Partners
Download the Comment Letter as a PDF

InfraShare Partners has submitted its comments on the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change’s document entitled: Maximising Economic Recovery of Offshore UK Petroleum: Draft Strategy for Consultation.  InfraShare has significant concerns that the Strategy developed by DECC pursuant to recent legislation will fail to achieve its intended aim of maximising the economic recovery of petroleum in the U.K. Continental Shelf, which is facing potentially irreversible collapse.  InfraShare’s comments include detailed recommendations for the U.K. government to improve third party access to UKCS infrastructure, enable the rational decommissioning of existing infrastructure, and encourage the development of new shared-use infrastructure on a regional basis.

Shared-use mining infrastructure – Why it matters, and how to achieve it

December 2015
Glen Ireland, InfraShare Partners
Paul Collier, Blavatnik School of Government,
University of Oxford
Download the Article as a PDF

For many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the effective exploitation of natural resource wealth is vital to their future economic development. With many bulk mineral deposits located in remote and poorly-explored regions, the infrastructure (particularly rail and port) necessary to exploit them is typically very costly. We argue that such infrastructure, once constructed, is critically important in enabling host government to maximise resource rents and achieve broad-based economic development. In Sub-Saharan Africa, large greenfield mines have historically been developed as “integrated” projects in which both mining and infrastructure operations remain under the exclusive and largely unrestricted control of a “first mover” mining firm. We consider the implications of this model, and examine the cases for and against imposing “open access” regulation on bulk mining infrastructure. We conclude that host governments in Sub-Saharan Africa should, in almost all cases, impose regulation requiring open access to such infrastructure. We stress that care must be taken to ensure that such regulation is both effective and workable, and that the need for greater expertise and capacity in this area should not be underestimated.

Click here to access the article on the Blavatnik School of Government’s website.

Tough Markets Demand a Rethink of Rail in Labrador Trough

February 2015
Glen Ireland and Mark Aplin
Founding Partners, InfraShare Partners
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During its successful 2014 election campaign, Quebec’s Liberal Party vowed to revive “Plan Nord” – a cherished blueprint for opening up the province’s vast northern mineral wealth for development. Brainchild of former Liberal Premier Jean Charest, the plan was shelved for two years after his defeat to the Parti Québécois in 2012. The mining industry has recently given its strong support for Premier Couillard’s refreshed Plan Nord, which includes an ambitious “greenfield” 400+ km multi-user railway corridor and port connecting stranded mineral deposits in the legendary “Labrador Trough” to Sept-Îles on the coast. Energy and Natural Resources Minister Pierre Arcand, Plan Nord’s helmsman, announced in October 2014 a major technical study of the project by Quebec-based Canarail, whose fees will be paid by Quebec taxpayers and supportive junior miners. While Plan Nord (redux) now appears to be “back on track”, some awkward but important questions are being asked. Can an infrastructure “mega project” in the Labrador Trough be justified at current, heavily-depressed iron ore prices? And, is a new railway corridor really the only viable logistics solution for planned iron ore mines? Read More

Moving Towards 
a Sustainable Shared-Use Mining Infrastructure Model*

January 2015
Glen Ireland
Founding Partner, InfraShare Partners
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Rail, port, energy and other forms of infrastructure are critical to the mining industry. Industry executives continually strive to secure long-term logistics and energy solutions that support efficient and reliable operations at competitive and predictable costs. Effective infrastructure arrangements can also enable mining companies to achieve certain strategic advantages, including a stronger presence in important jurisdictions and markets. In frontier countries, mining companies have developed a preference for privately owned infrastructure that they operate and control as part of an “integrated” operation. In developed countries, mining companies are generally willing (and often required) to utilise public infrastructure provided directly or under concession by the state, but they are often able to do so on preferential or exclusive terms. Read More

Will Simandou Deliver on the Promise of Shared-Use Mining Infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa?*

September 2014
Mark Aplin
Founding Partner, InfraShare Partners
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The recent signing in Conakry of an investment framework for the Simandou iron ore project marks the beginning of a new chapter in a long-running story. The scope of the accord between the Government of Guinea and the Rio Tinto-led consortium is, for the most part, typical for a large mining project in a frontier country. However, the proposals for developing a 650km railway and deep-sea port are quite novel, and will be followed carefully by an array of interested parties. Finding a durable, balanced and bankable approach to the development of large-scale mining infrastructure is now arguably the greatest challenge facing the world’s leading mining companies and resource-rich countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Read More