In many mining areas, potentially profitable mineral projects can be at risk because local people do not trust their governments and mining companies on many issues, including human rights. Projects will continue to be vulnerable to potential failure, delays, and higher costs. This paper suggests that geoscientists need to be aware of the global challenges they face from issues of corporate social responsibility, sustainable development, and human rights. These are not areas in which geoscience education has traditionally focused.
This paper examines the types of conflict concerning human rights that are encountered by geoscientists involved in mineral exploration and development. It provides a background to human rights issues and presents a classification of the types of issue encountered. It reports on a survey of case studies that provide examples of the breadth, complexities, and consequences of such issues. The paper then concludes by outlining the development of codes and standards to improve performance, and suggests approaches for positive, practical engagement.