Shared Value: The Business Approach to Ethics in Mining

The idea of partnering with local communities in the Mining Industry has lately and largely been seen as a risk mitigation strategy. Being a good community partner ensures a project’s “social license to operate”. To build community partnerships, companies have historically provided some sort of financial support to the community, which may take the shape of an Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA), a few jobs for community members, and some sort of monument to CSR like a school or nursery, which will typically not be staffed beyond the life of the mine.

In this paper, I propose an approach to partnering with local communities that is not led from a risk perspective but from a strategic project development lens. In contemporary literature, this approach has been labeled “Shared Value” and “Social Entrepreneurship”. Perhaps, if local communities were encompassed in the many supply chain opportunities, they could be enabled to create their own small businesses, which would build local capacity, provide jobs and share the wealth of the project without a burdensome CSR lens that sees local communities as an expense.

In this paper, I will discuss few avenues that local communities have to become a part of this shared value approach in the face of limited capacity and recourses. Project examples where industry joint ventures and collaboration have driven shared value will be provided.

Disclosure: I work as a Consultant at Shared Value Solutions, a management-consulting firm based in Guelph, ON. In my role, I represent a few Matawa Communities on the Ring of Fire development in Northern Ontario. My work includes creating business entities that enable First Nations to own some of the supply chain opportunities available.
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