It is imperative for government to balance mining fiscal requirements for revenue and prioritisation of environmental issues to promote sustainable socioeconomic development, Responsible Mining Foundation (RMF), a Swiss-based independent research organisation, has advocated.
“It is in the interest of present and future generations to balance income and environmental issues in mining. Because environment issues are inter-generational, how we destroy the environment today through mining will definitely affect the next generations,” Helene M. Piaget of RMF told the B&FT.
The call comes on the heels of growing concerns about the country’s uncompromising taste for mining revenue, amid its associated environmental destruction – especially pollution of water-bodies. Many have blamed the ‘gaps’ in the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, Act 702, for creating a vacuum in the exploitation of natural resources and weak enforcement of existing regulatory regimes.
Responsible mining, she argued, is a shared responsibility and therefore all must endeavour to contribute to that cause. “Responsible mining is what companies owe to society; society must articulate what it expects from mining companies and hold them to account; investors must also show keen interest in operations of companies while government plays its regulatory role effectively”.
Madam Piaget was speaking to the B&FT on the sidelines of a roundtable consultation on the Responsible Mining Index (RMI) 2018, held at Obuasi in the Ashanti Region. Participants at the seminar included civil society activists, media practitioners, academia, researchers, mine workers, and residents of mining-affected communities among others.
The RMI 2018 featured 30 multinational mining companies from 16 home-countries, including publicly-listed, state-owned and private ones. The assessed companies operate more than 700 sites in over 40 producing countries, and the assessment covered most mined commodities – excluding oil and gas. The index focused largely on company-wide behaviour, while also looked at site-level actions at 127 sites; thus, providing a snapshot of information disaggregated to the level of individual mining operations.
The scope of the RMI 2018 centred on six thematic areas: Economic development; Business conduct; Lifecycle management; Community Wellbeing; Working conditions and Environmental responsibility. The RMI supports the principle that minerals and metals mining should benefit the economies, improve the lives of people and respect the environments of producing countries, while also benefitting mining companies in a fair and viable way.
From the findings, many of the companies demonstrated establishment of responsible policies and practices; the index however recommended thoughtful and innovative approaches, leading to mining practices and efforts that equitably address the range of economic, environmental, social and governance issues which emanate from the industry.
“As a sector with large-scale and far-reaching potential, mining can also support achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. However, the one-time removal of these non-renewable resources has often failed to catalyse economic development; and for too many people and too many environments, mining brings lasting disruptive consequences,” it stated.