Saturday, February 25, 2012

Now on the Spot: Mining Industry

Mining Industry, Laggard on Worker Rights Abuses, Moving to Fore

First it was the garment/shoe industry epitomized by Nike that was in the hot seat. More recently it was the electronic gadget industry headed by Apple.

Now it is the global mining industry’s turn to come under scrutiny for its serious violations of worker rights. On March 4 – March 7, the world’s largest annual gathering of people, companies and organizations connected with mineral exploration will take place in Toronto, when the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada will seek to put the industry’s social responsibility at the front and center of the agenda.

Many mining multinationals operate very differently in developing countries from their behavior in home countries in North America and Australia, writes Paul Klein, the CSR reporter in Forbes. Klein lists some
issues to be explored in his article on “Why the Future of Mining Depends on Social Change”:

 How can companies improve social services for people impacted by mining operations?
 How will doing this support business objectives, such as increasing access to qualified help and reducing the risk of work stoppages?

To buttress his point, Klein quotes R. Anthony Hodge, president of the International Council on Mining and Metals: “It’s leadership of a different sort, very powerful but collaborative and inclusive, not domineering.”

Hodge conceded that there is s “minority” that strongly resists. Applying consumer pressure faces difficulties since the industry is made up of producers almost unknown to the public with no brand name equivalent to Nike or Apple.

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