Sustainability report imminent

A GLOBAL initiative on sustainability, which grew out of perceived threats to the minerals and mining industry, is due to release its first report next month.

This Mining Minerals and Sustainable Development project report could not be more timely, with the World Bank appointing in September a chairman to review the future of the mining industry, after figures revealed 7.5 per cent of the bank’s private loans went to the mining sector, while the sector generated 40 per cent of complaints.

The World Bank move was not the first indication of major trouble for the industry, however.

In the late 1990s, mining companies became alarmed at European Union moves towards regulatory policies that could have closed off markets.

Informal discussions among mining company chief executive officers at the 1999 World Economic Forum grew into a concerted push for survival.

The creation of the MMSD project was viewed as a premier strategic solution – to engage all stakeholder groups, including individual communi-ties, governments and the finance and assurance industries.

Four regional MMSD chapters – covering Australia, Southern Africa, South America and North America – have conducted scores of workshops, attracting hundreds of participants and surveying thousands.

The Australian chapter will release its draft regional report in January, and as with the global draft report, will target

responses from all interested groups, including industry critics.

Australian MMSD regional coordinator Bren Sheehy said, while access to capital had been one of the key drivers of the project, greater outcomes

for the industry and all stakeholders had been achieved.

The process of bringing stakeholders together and establishing a forum for expressing views had produced new networks and relationships in and around the industry, he said.

Mr Sheehy predicted the process of engaging stakeholders – and maintaining a comfort level within those engagements – was something that would continue beyond the life of the project.

“The genie’s out of the bottle now,” he said. “An open and accountable process is now in place forever.”

The draft report of the MMSD project is a precursor to a report that will be presented on behalf of the industry at next September’s World Summit on Sustainable Development.

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