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LECTURE 6: GOVERNANCE OF EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES

Effective governance is based on professionalism, transparent processes and a human rights perspective. In this lecture we discuss social impacts, equality, conflict prevention, anti-corruption and human rights in mining.

A mining project affects many people while also influencing the environment, changing the landscape and releasing pollutants to air and water. Governance of the mining industry requires knowledge about a broad spectrum of subjects, from geology and geochemistry to social impacts and human rights. The role of the governmental agencies may differ, but generally include informing and communicating with the public.

Communication with the public

As governmental officials, it is important to communicate in a way that is transparent, easy to understand and unbiased. It is also encouraged to  include the public in all the stages of mining, from exploration to mine closure. This can be done by so called stakeholder meetings, where different stakeholders can present their concerns or questions. A stakeholder is anyone who feels they have a stake in the mine, whether it is a landowner, a company, the municipality or someone from the public and so on. A stakeholder meeting can be held by the company, a governmental agency or in collaboration. Stakeholder meetings contribute to good relationship and dialogue between the company, the governmental agencies and the local community.

Knowing the public understanding about mining and the environment in an area is important to communicate effectively. The understanding may be higher in areas where mining has been or is being carried out, compared to areas where mining is new. The information should always be clear, concise and easy to understand. The language should be understandable for everyone and avoid usage of technical terms. By raising the public understanding and working with transparent processes, the social impacts can be reduced. Communication and dialogue is a main tool in conflict prevention.

Social impacts and conflict

The social impacts from a mining project can be both negative and positive. The mining industry can be an important employer, investor and tax payer contributing to local, regional and national economies but can at the same time lead to social changes which start or worsen social conflicts. Common conflicts include acquisition and use of land along with the availability of water. Practical matters, such as availability of water, may sometimes be arranged between the government and the company, where the company might provide water for communities by building a drinking water treatment facility. The arrangement may even be a prerequisite for the mining permit.

Concerns about the environment may arise within the local communities, or come from non-governmental organizations or others. Concerns should always be met with information and dialogue, allowing the public to ask questions and even see monitoring results. Transparency is encouraged, from all parties: the company, the governmental officials and the local communities.

Another source of conflict may be the influx of people to a mining project. Mines can be large employers, and towns and villages can quickly expand due to a nearby mine starting. While the work force of a mine can be between a hundred and several thousand people, the increase in population may be several times more than the total number of workers. Large and quick changes may cause conflict, for example cultural conflict between people or economical conflict. While the mine may contribute to the tax income in the area, the administration may have difficulties investing the increased budget in a good way, or in time to account for need of infrastructure. The investments may also be unevenly shared, leading to social tension and further conflict.

It is encouraged that an assessment of the social impacts is included in the EIA. The social impacts should be identified, predicted and analyzed to effectively prevent the negative effects for people. The interests of the most vulnerable groups (low-income and marginalized) should be identified and protected. The basic human rights must always be followed.

Human rights

While the mine may cause social tension and conflict, a human rights perspective must always be present. Human rights include the right to clean water and a safe environment, the right to livelihood free from violence as well as and the right to be fairly compensated for loss. To prevent human rights impacts, it is important to be well informed on the present socio-economic situation and have an historical context in the communities along with consistent dialogue between parties, meaning the communities, the company and the governmental officials. A close monitoring of changes to the situation is needed to identify impacts early, and properly manage measures to prevent or control these.

Corruption

Corruption can be defined as the use of public office for personal gain. Corruption can for example involve accepting bribes in a license or permitting process, or favoring certain groups or companies. To prevent corruption, certain measures may need to be implemented. An anti-corruption programme is encouraged within both governmental offices and companies. The aim with the programme can be to inform employees about corruption and how to detect it, site reviews by third party auditor or establishing a whistleblower programme. There are several examples of anti-corruption programmes and many work with engaging employees in the issue and allowing them to work with questions related to corruption.

 

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