In a special report – The Future of Mining: Sustainability – global law firm Hogan Lovells, in partnership with Africa Legal, reflects on how ensuring a mine is sustainable, is in the best interests of everyone involved. This is especially so for communities that have not had access to resources for development or infrastructure.
The authors discuss how finance for mines in Africa has become increasingly contingent on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governing) principles. Mining companies, they warn, could see funding dry up if they don’t pursue sustainability targets that meet investor expectations.
Investors in African mining can make good returns but they have to adopt a more holistic approach than the strip-and-go attitude of their predecessors. Before any ground is broken, the people who live in the affected communities need to be informed and involved and they too need to know they will reap some of the benefits.
“First and foremost you need a social license to operate and if you’re building and operating a mine in the midst of communities, it’s your duty to ensure that you leave those communities better off than when you got there and that you improve the standard of living of local citizens,” says Jasmine Abrahams, Group Manager for Sustainability for Ivanhoe Mines in an interview in the report.
She emphasises, it is because of this that the nature of mining companies is also changing.
“It’s not all shareholder-driven anymore where you just seek to maximise profits, you’ve got to be a good corporate citizen.”
It’s a point picked up by Jacqueline Musiitwa, the Director of Kalene Hill Resources, which focuses on mining in Zambia. She says in her view South Africa is leading the way on sustainability in mining.
“South Africa has learnt some very hard lessons in the past, and now the framework is there.” Communities in South Africa are stronger and louder than communities in other places, she says.
“If something goes wrong, people will march and they will go to the headquarters of a company and they will complain and they will riot. There have been several cases of communities in South Africa that have decided not to let miners come in because they have not convinced them that they will do the right thing.”
This Hogan Lovells report provides the very latest insights and thinking on issues around sustainability that are now of global concern.
The final word goes to Hogan Lovells partner and global head of mining Matthew Johnson who says, “Mining companies in Africa are utilising and have a desire to achieve good and innovative sustainable mining practices including, for example, renewable energy use and plans for energy transition, health and safety, diversity and technology. There’s a great opportunity for those mining companies, and their financial stakeholders, to continue to really drive that focus towards global best practice.”
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