CSR at Canadian Mining Operations Overseas: Learning from Multiperspective Collaborative Case Studies

CIM Vancouver 2010
Abstract Over the past decade, a number of Canadian extractive industry firms have faced corporate social responsibility (CSR) controversies concerning alleged negative environmental, social or economic impacts or incidents pertaining to their overseas operations. It has not been uncommon for different, “competing” accounts concerning these alleged impacts or incidents to be published, prepared variously by the companies themselves, by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), by academics, by “think tank” research organizations, or others. While these competing “single perspective” accounts provide readers with some information concerning a particular situation, questions can be raised as to whether the description and analysis is credible and balanced, and it is rare for these accounts to move beyond the situation immediately at hand to explore ways in which all parties can learn from it.
The genesis of this project is the idea that use of a multi-perspective and collaborative approach to case study development -- involving teams consisting of a combination of academics from different relevant disciplines as well as senior persons from the private sector, public sector, and the civil society sector capable of speaking knowledgeably about their perspectives -- could go some way toward creating balanced, accurate and nuanced accounts, analysis, and discussion of “lessons learned” for use by public, private and civil society actors. Accounts developed in such a way may be perceived as more credible than single perspective accounts, and hence be drawn on more readily as a basis for improved public policy, business practices and community action, by parties in the public, private and civil society sector.
With the support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and several participating universities, this project tests the multi-perspective and collaborative CSR case study methodology through the development of case studies intended to explore answers to six key research questions:
- How are Canadian mining companies addressing the environmental, social and economic (ESE) challenges they face in their overseas operations?
- What legal challenges are Canadian mining companies operating abroad experiencing, and how are these firms meeting their legal requirements?
- What voluntary CSR standards/instruments/initiatives are companies using, and to what effect?
- What lessons can be learned from mining company responses to ESE challenges they have faced?
- How do mining companies add or diminish economic, environmental and social value in the communities in which they operate?
- How well does the collaborative, multi-perspective methodology work?

In the first stage of the project, three case studies are being developed, pertaining to: the Maricunga mining operations of Kinross Gold Corporation in Chile, the mining operations of Golden Star Resources in Ghana, and the Paracatu mining operations of Kinross Gold Corporation in Brazil.
The purpose of this paper is to present early findings from these three case studies.
Keywords: ethics, stakeholder engagement, community, Case studies, Developing countries, law, corporate social responsibility, codes, standards, programs, indigenous, Environment
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