Nine Ways to Make Mining More Responsible

Nine Ways to Make Mining More Responsible

Last week I attended the annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC),  the world’s largest annual gathering of the mineral industry.  The convention, which included trade and mining investment shows, attracted more than 22.000 people involved in exploration, discovery and development of mines around the world, and featured more than 1,000 displays from mining companies and suppliers to the industry.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was front and centre at PDAC. There was a specialCSR Event Series and many mining companies put a high priority on showcasing their CSR initiatives on displays and in CSR/Sustainability reports that were made available to attendees.

At PDAC, I discovered 9 areas in which mining companies can improve their CSR performance:

1. Licence to Operate: Increasing pressure from citizens and advocacy groups is causing local government stakeholders to demand more and better documentation of the social and environmental impact of mining operations. This means mining companies need credible data and new ways of modeling impact.

2. Advocacy: International advocacy organizations (including JATAM, The Mining Advocacy Network) and local organizations around the world are keeping close tabs on the impact of the mining industry. Mining companies need to pro-actively identify and engage these groups during all phases of exploration, development and operations.

3. Risk: Poor CSR performance increases the perception of reputational and operational risk – especially among investors. In order to secure financing and maintain share value, mining companies need new ways of documenting and communicating what they are doing to mitigate negative social and environmental impact.

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Paul also writes a blog about Corporate Responsibility for Canadian Business online, sits on the Advisory Board for the Centre for CSR at the Queen's School for Business, and has written extensively for publications in Canada and the United States.