The fifth annual Global Exploration, Mining and Minerals (GEMM) Dialogue wrapped up just over a week ago in Vancouver. GEMM was sponsored by the Responsible Minerals Sector Initiative (RMSI) at Simon Fraser University. It was an excellent venue for discussion of new ideas and dissemination of feedback on new approaches in responsible mining.
A primary focus of the dialogue was on ways in which the success (or otherwise) of corporate social responsibility (CSR) could be measured and incorporated into the financial evaluation of a mineral project. Methods discussed varied from factors applied to the Net Present Value (NPV) of a project, to risk analysis techniques, to traditional accounting of the estimated costs of CSR. The only real consensus achieved was that the mining industry still has a long way to go in terms of recognition and implementation of CSR principles.
Despite the success of a venue like GEMM as a forum for dialogue, the dissemination of new ideas and approaches in responsible mining and their acceptance into corporate culture and practice is a slow and frustrating process. This is certainly aggravated by the remoteness and isolation of many frontline mining operations.
One of the ways in which dissemination and acceptance can be expedited is through distance learning. Online courses and live interactive webcasts on CSR-related topics, by respected mining institutions, are already available on the Internet and can readily be incorporated into minesite training programs. Examples include a recent live webcast titled Environmental and Social Conflict Resolution in the Resources Sector from the Sustainable Minerals Institute of the University of Queensland in Australia, a series of online courses based on e3Plus: A Framework for Responsible Exploration by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), and other CSR-related courses. Including courses like these into employee training programs is one way that mining companies can demonstrate their commitment and build a corporate culture of responsible mining.