Community Development is the process of increasing the strength and effectiveness of communities, improving people’s quality of life and enabling people to participate in decision making to achieve greater long-term control over their lives.
Managing risks is an essential factor of success for mining and metals companies. Many risks are financial or technical in nature but, increasingly, “softer” elements of projects (e.g. social and environmental aspects) are becoming greater risks to manage. Societal expectations of corporate social responsibility (CSR) are encouraging companies to go beyond mitigating their impacts and to actively contribute to sustainable community development in host countries and neighborhoods, in order to maintain their “social license to operate”. Community development is the process of increasing the strength and effectiveness of communities, improving people’s quality of life and enabling people to participate in decision making to achieve greater long-term control over their lives. Sustainable community development programs are those that contribute to the long-term strengthening of community viability. Often, the most sustainable beneficial legacies that community development programs around a mining and metals operation may leave are in the skills and capacities that training, employment and education programs for local people provide.
The essential element of a sustainable community development program is that it can survive without input from a mining and metals company, especially after the mining project is finished. Thus, community sustainability can be supported by mining practices that help convert one local asset, namely non-renewable natural resource capital, into other local assets, namely sustainable social, economic and environmental capital.
The mining and metals industry can play a central role in community development by acting as an influence for positive change in areas that may otherwise have little, if any, opportunity for economic and social development. This is especially true in situations where mining can be a catalyst to help build up other (non-mining) sustainable income sources in the areas where the mines are located so that communities are able to develop independently of the mine and are thus able to survive the exhaustion of the ore reserves and the closure of the mining and metals operation. An important means of achieving this is to foster dynamic linkages between communities and external partners.
During the mine life, there can be tensions involving the distribution of mining revenues in a country, between local and national levels. This arises from the fact that mineral wealth is usually vested in national governments rather than owned by people living in the mining area, and national governments may have priorities for development that differ from those of the communities neighboring the mine. For companies who see sustainable community development as a positive factor for their mining activities, however, there is a pressing need to expand the positive benefits and mitigate the harmful operational impacts in the local area, regardless of whether the central government chooses to return a proportion of royalty payments and other mining revenues to the local community. At the minimum, companies must ensure that harmful project impacts are alleviated, for example by providing job opportunities, or training leading to job opportunities, for any residents whose livelihoods are reduced by the mine’s land take. Going further, companies should act as the anchor or catalyst for broader projects that provide alternative livelihood benefits for a wide range of people, and not only for mine related businesses. This could be, for example, by guaranteeing enterprise development loans at a reduced interest rate, or by signing contracts to purchase goods during the vulnerable start-up years of local businesses. This is harder to achieve, and therefore needs to be firmly embedded in partnerships with other important development actors, such as governments and donor agencies. Encouraging central governments to invest mining revenues in the regions most affected by mining is important, but it is equally essential to work with local and regional governments on local development programs. Most governments have their own national, regional and local development plans. Emphasizing the need to build multi-stakeholder partnerships, Myanmar Yang Tse’s CSD Team implementation responds to a clear need for a systematic and objective way to quantify and agree ways to enhance mining’s economic and social contribution.
|< Prev||Next >|