May 2012

New society needs your input

ESRS working on integration and recruiting new members

By Alistair Kent

The world is changing and so is mining. As society demands more environmentally and socially responsible business practices, the mining industry must rise to the occasion. CIM’s Environmental and Social Responsibility Society is stepping up to help guide the industry in creating, sharing and enacting environmentally and socially responsible practices at all stages of the mining cycle.

CIM’s efforts to provide a forum for environmental professionals in the industry began in 1998, with the formation of the Environmental Society. The Environmental Society became dormant in 2009, and is being revitalized as the ESRS — a new and more comprehensive society established in August 2011.

The ESRS is working to improve the global relevance and the presence of CIM in the environmental management and social responsibility aspects of mining, to inspire, encourage and coordinate environmentally and socially responsible activities within CIM and its societies, and to promote and disseminate best practices across the entire industry. To achieve these objectives, we need your participation.

The ESRS’ revitalization involves re-building, re-motivating and expanding the current membership, which arguably currently comprises a small fraction of the potential membership. There are many CIM members who would be interested in ESRS, but have not heard of the society. There are also non-CIM members scattered across the industry, working at mining companies, as consultants, at law offices, in the public sector, etc., who may be interested in participating in the ESRS.

To recruit new members, the ESRS will be present at the CIM Conference & Exhibition 2012 in Edmonton. Rightly or wrongly, the ESRS will run two separate streams of education at the conference: one focused on environmental responsibility and the other on social responsibility. There will however be one common venue, the Environmental Plenary, at which there will be an opportunity to question the traditional, two-stream approach, and explore the value of integrating our specialties.

The ESRS is also exploring how modern communications can be utilized to complement CIM’s various conferences. We need to take full advantage of these tools to maximize our connectedness. At present, we are actively pursuing developing a strategy to make better use of CIM’s website, and are investigating the possibility of creating new venues to link ESRS members online. I have taken great satisfaction in the last decade when there has been the opportunity to build bridges between disciplines and departments in mining companies and consultants. It makes the projects go much better and promotes team thinking. This is “connectedness” at work, and to me offers the best definition of what sustainability and social responsibility is all about in practice. Through such interaction and collaboration we can provide a meaningful and responsible interpretation for the fuzzy, yet popular, term “sustainable.”

We need to treat environmental and social responsibility like safety, and build it into everything we do. We must approach both strategically, placing emphasis on connectedness, capitalizing on technology, and ultimately finding balance and wisdom through experience and collaboration. To do this we need more CIM members to get involved. And we need to inject fresh blood from non-traditional professions and practices into our CIM veins. If we wish to improve the mining communities’ planning and risk management, there is value in connecting effectively with this large constituency.

Do you want to be part of this change? Do you want to help ESRS to make a difference? If so, ESRS would love to hear from you. Contact: Janice Zinck at jzinck@nrcan.gc.ca.
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