Enhancing the contribution of mining to sustainable development
Jonathan C. A. Hobbs, 2005. "Enhancing the contribution of mining to sustainable development", Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World, B. R. Marker, M. G. Petterson, F. McEvoy, M. H. Stephenson
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This paper reviews recent developments aimed at improving the mining sector’s contribution to sustainable development. Mineral endowments are regarded by many development and environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as a ‘curse’ and counterproductive to long-term growth and poverty reduction goals, even antithetical to sustainable development in developing countries. This paper argues that, in spite of some empirical evidence in some countries, this is not an inevitable general rule and that the mining sector offers numerous possibilities for catalysing sustainable development and attainment of the millennium development goals. This is, however, conditional upon adequate governance and social and environmental safeguards being in place. The heterogeneity of the mining sector is considered and concern is expressed for the undermanagement of the growing, albeit not new, phenomenon of artisanal and small-scale mining in developing countries. Without better management of this sector any attempts to improve the contribution of mining to sustainable development will be severely limited.
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Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World
The sustainable development of minerals, which are non-renewable resources, is a major challenge in today’s world. In this regard the true definition of sustainability’ is a debating point in itself: can such a concept exist with respect to non-renewable resources? Perhaps the ideal sustainability model is one that minimizes negative environmental impact and maximizes benefits to society, the economy and regional/national development. Developed and near-developed economies rely for commodity supplies on developing countries where major mining operations are often a mainstay of the domestic economy. Limited environmental regulation and low wages lead to charges of exploitation. Also, large numbers of people have no alternative to living by informal, often dangerous, ‘artisanal’ mining. This Special Publication gives examples from developing countries at all scales of mineral extraction. The volume reviews environmental, economic, health and social problems and highlights the need to solve these before sustainability can be achieved. The better solutions require mutual understanding, through full involvement of all stakeholders, education, training and investment so that small-scale ansd artisinal mines can grow into well-managed operations. At larger scales, most major interantional mining companies have now inoproved their practices and are monitoring their progress, although there is no room for complacency in this rapidly changing area.