Communities: Sustainable Development

There is no doubt that all methods of mining can have a significant impact on local communities. So, a critical challenge for the aluminium industry is ensuring that bauxite mining benefits the communities it impacts.

 Every bauxite mining and refining operation has local communities at its heart, from the workforce and their multi-generational families to suppliers, support services, and neighbours. The industry can play a vital role in the long-term sustainable development and poverty reduction of these communities even beyond the site’s closure.  

Employment leads to highly skilled and trained workforces, while industry presence improves local infrastructure.  

Mining operators can collaborate and build partnerships with NGOs, charities, and local businesses to invest in social and economic initiatives. These include delivering public health and sanitation programmes, building safe water supplies and wastewater systems, and providing cultural resources to enhance education in schools. Through community engagement and by working together, everyone benefits. 

The International Council on Mining and Metals outlines the following guidelines for the mining industry’s positive contribution to the social, economic and institutional development of the communities in which it operates: 

  • Engage at the earliest practical stage with likely affected parties to discuss and respond to issues and conflicts concerning the management of social impacts. 
  • Ensure appropriate systems are in place for ongoing interaction with affected parties, making sure that minorities and other marginalised groups have equitable and culturally appropriate means of engagement. 
  • Contribute to community development, from project development to closure, in collaboration with host communities and their representatives. 
  • Encourage partnerships with governments and non-governmental organisations to ensure that programmes, such as community health, education, and local business development, are well-designed and effectively delivered. 
  • Enhance social and economic development by seeking opportunities to address poverty. 

Many bauxite mining and alumina refining operations are in parts of the world where there are less developed public institutions. Therefore, there is a role for industry to play in helping to develop transparent, effective and sustainable institutional capacity.