A short note to share with you a site that I came across today. Here is the link to the procedings of the First International Seminar on Social Responsibility in Mining held in Santiago, Chile in October 2011. I have not had time to download and look at all of the PowerPoint presentations. Those I did look at leave me wanting to go back and look at more, for there were many interesting topics adressed. Although as always it boils down to getting the locals on your side by whatever reasonable and ethical means you can. Factor in the expense as part of the cost of doing buisiness.
Although as Malcomb Scoble of the University of British Columbia concludes in a presentation:
- There is a vast improvement on human rights during the past ten years. However reality on the ground has not kept pace with rhetoric. Respect for human rights and protection of vulnerable groups has a long way to go.
- Most host countries fail to fulfill their obligations under international law to protect human rights.
- Evidence and allegations of complicity in human rights abuses confirm taht voluntary initiatives alone are inadequate.
- Due to failures of host governments and companies, there is a need for an accountability mechanism.
Quite what is practical as regards setting up and running an accountablity mechanism is left unanswered. I can think of none other than a United Nations mandate allowing access to the International Court of Justice for aggrieved parties.
Another source of papers and presentations on a similar theme is the 2009 York University, Toronto seminar on Rethinking Extractive Industry; Regulation, Dispossession and Emerging Claims. Here is the link where you can download most of the papers. Here is one abstract I found interesting considering current events:
All U.S. presidents since Nixon, have promised Americans energy independence. Meanwhile, because of its profligate waste of energy, the U.S. gets steadily less oil independent. In contrast, Canadian Prime Ministers never talk about Canadian energy independence or security, and enthusiastically support Canada’s satellite role in helping to ensure U.S. energy security. The focus on exports to the U.S. means that Canada opens its own citizens to energy insecurity by importing half the oil used here. Canada gets a higher percentage of its oil imports from OPEC countries than the U.S., a fact you would never know from living in Canada. In a country where the dominant season is winter, energy security matters. Cuts in supplies could literally mean Canadians freezing in the dark. The irony is that American Presidents promise energy independence, but fail to do much about it, while Canadian Prime Ministers do not talk about it, but could easily achieve it. Canada exports more energy than it consumes. The main U.S. choice on energy independence is to go really green and substantially cut fossil fuel consumption, or use aggressive tactics, including war, to get oil from under other peoples’ sands. It’s a choice of going green and independent, versus empire and dependence. Canada’s main security choice is to gain energy independence so it can go green, or spew lots of greenhouse gases by providing guaranteed levels of energy exports to the U.S., and acting as deputy sheriff to U.S. adventures abroad over oil. This paper explores the themes of energy independence and dependence in Canada and the U.S. within the context of the triple crisis of peak oil, energy insecurity, and the looming threat of climate change catastrophe.
Not sure if this is all still true in 2012. Here is another that gives some reason to be hopeful—although with EKATI up for sale, this too might be dated.
The emergence of formal corporate-community agreements, often termed Impact and Benefit Agreements (IBAs), in the Canadian mining sector has been read by many as a positive innovation. Negotiated directly between resource developers and Aboriginal communities with limited state interference, IBAs serve to manage impacts associated with a mine project and deliver tangible benefits to local communities. Notwithstanding their increasing use and potential significance, limited systematic analysis has been undertaken to determine whether they are meeting their intended aims. This paper reports on the effectiveness of a number of IBAs negotiated in support of three diamond mines in Northwest Territories, drawing on evidence from time-series data, key informant interviews, and focus group meetings in Yellowknife and Dettah, NWT, and Kugluktuk, NU. While some deficiencies were apparent, the IBAs were generally found to be meeting their objectives. Nevertheless, little is known about their long-term efficacy and the degree to which IBAs are able to address long-standing concerns associated with hinterland resource extraction beyond their agreement-specific objectives. Hence, as a complementary task, this paper offers: a protocol for enabling community-centric long term socio-economic conditions monitoring; and a conceptual model of an ideal IBA that can meet the explicit and even implicit expectations of Aboriginal communities currently faced with poverty and underdevelopment, vastly increased mineral exploration within their traditional territories, and ongoing land claim negotiations with the crown.
For when the mine is gone, it is gone, and no agreement can replace the money the local enjoyed while there was a mine.