Mining is a tremendously valuable industry to the Canadian economy, contributing billions of dollars to Canada’s GDP, and employing nearly half a million people across the country. One of the most valuable entities in the Canadian mining industry, is that Canada takes centre stage when it comes to responsible mining and is recognized internationally for its leadership in safe and sustainable mining practices. Such practices encompassing Corporate Social Responsibility ensure the safety of both employees within the mining industry, as well as those impacted by mining operations.
Corporate Social Responsibility is a vital component to the mining industry, which connects mining companies to surrounding communities. Although there is much to benefit from mining, communities that call mining regions home, often feel the adverse social and environmental impacts of the industry, including poor living conditions, low compensation, and violence.
Corporate Social Responsibility is the voluntary action undertaken by mining companies to either improve the economic, social and / or environmental living conditions of local communities, or to reduce the negative impacts of a mining project. Whether through community engagement, local employment, or community fundraising initiatives, giving back to the regions impacted by mining operations is the measure of the industry’s success.
An understanding of both the temporary and long term impacts of mining projects is fundamental for mining communities. This understanding allows the community to build an awareness of mining operations, and in turn understand its importance and benefits. In 2004, Canadian mining companies were the first in the world to develop a performance system. Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM), an initiative created by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), which illustrates their commitment to the importance of responsible and sustainable mining.
Mining projects often are conducted in high-risk, impoverished, and conflict-prone regions of the world. Residents of such regions often suffer from health concerns, inadequate access to resources, lack of proper compensation, and struggle to achieve a basic standard of living. In addition, such regions are often subject to political instability, human rights infringements and weak governance.
When operating in conflict regions, mining companies are responsible for ensuring that they do not “intentionally or unintentionally cause, contribute to, or benefit from human rights abuses or armed conflict.” Responsible and sustainable mining requires that mining companies first develop a full understanding of the context of the nation and the region in which they operate. Such an initiative must be taken in account, in order to identify the potential risks of the region in order to subsequently develop appropriate steps to prevent any contribution to the region’s existing conflict.
Corporate Social Responsibility is the way in which corporations determine and understand the circumstances of the region in which they operate, and the way in which they work to build a communicative relationship that bridges the gap between the corporation and the mining community. Corporate Social Responsibility and allied initiatives are instrumental in strategically contributing to and empowering local communities that are impacted by mining projects and operations. These corporate initiatives shed light on the opportunities associated with mining, assisting the community in overcoming the limitations of the industry.