The mining industry can play a central role in community development by acting as a catalyst for positive change in areas that may otherwise have little if any opportunities for economic and social development. This is especially true in situations where mining can be a catalyst to help to 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 departure of the mining operation. An important means of achieving this is to foster dynamic linkages between communities and external support agencies.
During the mine life, there can be tensions involving the distribution of mining revenues in a country, between local and national levels. This is because 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 that 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. Encouraging central governments to invest mining revenues in the regions most affected by the 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. The most effective use of corporate investments in local community development is in support of existing programs that provide additional skills and resources where appropriate.