October 2014

President's notes

A developing partnership

By Sean Waller

Sean_WallerMention in mining circles of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has traditionally sparked angry condemnation. These strong views on the part of the minerals industry are due to a long history of NGOs opposing mining operations and mining development. This, along with a record of inaccurate reporting, misrepresentation, lack of accountability and the overarching objective to hinder or stop mining has led to a very poor relationship between mining and NGOs.

The world is changing, however, and the long-standing adversarial relationship is, too. Mining companies, especially in remote and underdeveloped areas, assume responsibility for a wide range of local community and social needs, and there are social impacts to be managed, but these challenges are complex.

There is a large number of NGOs whose mission it is to improve the lives and opportunities for people in underdeveloped communities. Realizing that mines are often located in precisely these areas, and sharing these objectives, several highly respected international NGOs have partnered with mining companies to make this happen. The fact is that in many instances mining companies and NGOs can do so much more by working together.

The benefits are numerous. NGOs can be effective in development work and can contribute funding so that more programs are possible. Since some mining companies are already present in many of the areas where NGOs want to be, they can introduce the NGOs to the local communities. The NGOs can strengthen development programs and provide skills that the mining companies may not have. Importantly, local communities often view NGOs as independent of the mining company and therefore develop a more trusting and objective relationship.

NGOs and mining companies are reaching out to each other, and the results are good. As so often is the case, working together rather than in opposition achieves so much more and the real winners are the people in the communities where we operate!

So next time you meet someone from an NGO, have a discussion, you may be surprised.

Sean Waller
CIM President

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