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WB To Review Oil, Gas And Mining Projects

The World Bank will soon launch its first study on whether its oil...

The World Bank will soon launch its first study on whether its oil, gas and mining projects in countries like Zambia and Chad hurt the poor more than they help, a top official said, Bloomberg reports.

The study follows furious criticism by activists who say projects like the $3.5 billion Exxon Mobil Corp.-led oil pipeline in Chad benefits rich and corrupt leaders at the expense of the poor and the environment. Leaders of those countries counter that mining their resources is the only way they can pull their people out of poverty.

"We want to have everyone involved in the process, (activists), industry, the World Bank,'' said Peter Woicke, the head of the World Bank's International Finance Corp.. While the study is underway the Bank won't heed the call of groups that it cut off lending to mining companies, he told Bloomberg at a World Bank seminar on mining and the environment. The lender instead is preparing new mining work.

"We know that in many of the countries where we work, their natural resources are their wealth,'' World Bank President James Wolfensohn said in a speech to the conference today. ``But if we don't take care of these (environmental and poverty) issues, there will be no peace, and there will be no mining industry.''