Steering Projects

Current trends in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the mining sector are strongly influenced by the International Finance Corporation and the International Council of Mining and Metals.

These organisations emphasise sustainable community development, promoting the following main objectives:
• Catalysing economic and social change in areas with limited opportunities for development.
• Increasing communities’ strength and effectiveness to ensure the viability of development interventions.
• Helping communities participate in decision making to achieve long-term control over their development.
• Developing programs that can continue without support from mining projects, long term (i.e. after mining closure).

While mining companies acknowledge these trends in policies, identifying and executing projects in line with these principles is more difficult to realise.

Working with clients and projects, the SRK UK team has identified several challenges facing sustainable community development programs:
• According to international standards, community development programs should be based on local needs. Communities, however, do not necessarily have this perspective; instead they consider mining companies as ongoing providers. As such, local demands/expectations are not easily translated into sustainable projects.
• The socio-economic viability of many towns and settlements may be entirely linked to mining operations, and their survival after closure is often doubtful. Sustainable development in such context is difficult.
• In many countries, national, regional and local governments expect mining companies to contribute to infrastructure development. Increasingly, mining agreements include these commitments. But infrastructure development without assurance of maintenance does not lead to sustainable development.
• Community development projects are generally included in the operational phase of a mining project, where the company and community collaborate closely in employment, training, procurement and community assistance. But community development is rarely adequately linked to closure and post closure planning.
• Mining companies lack experience in the human resources required for implementing sustainable interventions.

In conclusion, although mining companies have adopted the language of sustainable community development, at the project level there is important work to be done to put these ideas into practice, taking into account the real local socio-economic opportunities and constraints.

Hilde van Vlaenderen:
Lalit Kumar:

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