Mention 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
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.
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