Beyond Borders asked leaders from four influential organizations for their views on sustainability and what it means to be a responsible mining company today.
President and CEO of World Vision Canada
Responsible mining means respecting the environment by meeting and exceeding national and international norms, and seeking innovative and proactive approaches to environmental protection. It requires that a company uphold the rights and perspectives of people and communities affected by its operations and invest in long-term community development through national and local government and/or community development organizations.
To be responsible means working collaboratively with local communities and investing in the long-term well-being of the country. The cost of taking short-cuts on any of these will reflect poorly on the company’s reputation as a responsible corporate citizen and, in the long run, negatively impact profits as well.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
President of the International Council on Mining and Metals
For the past 30 years, the mining industry has been attempting to identify all the impacts to people and the environment and mitigate these impacts. We need a new focus, one that allows us to understand the positive in what we do as well as the negative.
Seven years ago, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) was created as a mechanism to enhance practices across the industry in light of the emergence of sustainability ideas as a dominating theme. ICMM has made great progress in that time, in no small part due to the commitment and engagement of our member companies.
For us, the effective application of sustainability concepts means engaging collaboratively and with a sense of integrity with all those who are affected by mining projects. The end result must be better design and implementation across the full life-cycle of a mine project from exploration through to post-closure. The industry has come a long way in the past decade but there remains yet a long climb ahead of us.
ICMM is a CEO-led organization representing many of the world’s leading mining and metals companies as well as regional, national and commodity associations. ICMM members are committed to the responsible production of the minerals and metals society needs.
Executive Director, Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
It’s a well-established principle that responsible mining requires companies to leave the environment and communities in which they operate healthier than they were originally found. Today, responsibility goes beyond that to include taking an active role in preventing the continued spread of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria among workers, families and other residents in the communities in which they mine. It also means ensuring that testing is accessible, stigma is reduced, and counseling and treatment are readily available.
To fully address these diseases, companies should provide comprehensive and integrated non-discrimination, prevention, testing, and treatment programs. Stigma is a signifi cant barrier for workers trying to access voluntary counseling and testing, so anti-discrimination and anti-stigma practices must be added to company policies. Membership in the GBC is also a mark of a responsible mining company. It shows that a company is eager to incorporate best practices and high standards against AIDS, TB and malaria in the workplace – and that it is willing to help others by sharing critical lessons learned about what works.
GBC is a Coalition of more than 220 companies united to keep the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria a global priority. GBC provides tailored support so that companies can take an active role in defeating these pandemics.
Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact Office
Regardless of a company’s size, sector or where it operates around the world, all companies have an interest in building sustainable markets, combating corruption, safeguarding the environment and contributing to peaceful societies. These objectives are critical to long-term success.
While many mining companies may face pressure to find production opportunities in weak states with poor records in all of these areas, there is a strong business case for the mining industry to adopt strategies, policies and processes aligned with universal value frameworks. This can help minimize environmental, social and governance risks and create sustainable long-term value for the company.
It is for this reason that any responsible mining company should be an active participant of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative with over 5,000 participants in more than 130 countries.
The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas ofhuman rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.