To ensure a positive contribution to poverty reduction and sustainable development, mining and refining operations need to be profitable.
In turn their long term commitment to local communities is rewarded with a positive operating environment, highly skilled and motivated workforces and reliable suppliers.
Mining can be a positive influence, providing employment and infrastructure and supporting education and healthcare programmes that meet the demands and needs of local communities even beyond the closure of the mine site. This is achieved through the development of local skills and capacities, working in collaboration with other organisations to build partnerships and creating business opportunities to aid employment once the mine has closed. Investment in public health and sanitation programmes (e.g. malaria prevention), provision of safe water supplies and managed wastewater systems, cultural resources and schools are some of the ways in which companies are helping to build long term sustainable communities.
Given that many bauxite mining and alumina refining operations are located in parts of the world with less developed public institutions, there is a role for industry to play in helping to develop such transparent, effective and sustainable institutional capacity. Investment in countries with limited governance is an opportunity for sustainable development and barriers to such investment also mean potential barriers to economic and institutional development.
The International Council on Mining and Metals, as part of its 10 principles of sustainable development, 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 that 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 through 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, local business development) are well designed and effectively delivered.
- Enhance social and economic development by seeking opportunities to address poverty.
At the heart of every bauxite mining and refining operation lie local communities, comprising the workforce and their families (often across multiple generations), suppliers of materials and support services, neighbours and customers.
One of the challenges for industry is to ensure that the social, economic and institutional development of these communities is part of the benefit that is realised through the resource extraction and value addition of mining and refining.
International Council on Mining & Metals
10 Sustainable Development Principles
Apply ethical business practices and sound systems of corporate governance and transparency to support sustainable development
Integrate sustainable development in corporate strategy and decision-making processes
Respect human rights and the interests, cultures, customs and values of employees and communities affected by our activities
Implement effective risk-management strategies and systems based on sound science and which account for stakeholder perceptions of risks
Pursue continual improvement in health and safety performance with the ultimate goal of zero harm
Pursue continual improvement in environmental performance issues, such as water stewardship, energy use and climate change
Contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and integrated approaches to land-use planning
Facilitate and support the knowledge-base and systems for responsible design, use, re-use, recycling and disposal of products containing metals and minerals
Pursue continual improvement in social performance and contribute to the social, economic and institutional development of host countries and communities
Proactively engage key stakeholders on sustainable development challenges and opportunities in an open and transparent manner. Effectively report and independently verify progress and performance