By Jonathon Hanks, writing for Anglo American’s A Magazine.
For many people the concept of mining companies being committed to sustainable development is a classic oxymoron. Not only is their business model entirely dependent on the extraction of a finite non-renewable resource – and thus by definition not sustainable over the long term – but the extractive sector also has a reputation (deserved or otherwise) for despoiling the environment, disregarding worker safety, and being complicit in human rights abuses in areas of weak governance.
While businesses generally are seen to pursue profits at the expense of people and the planet, the mining sector is perceived as being particularly egregious in seeking to maximise the private gains of its activities while ‘socialising’ the losses. Indeed, it could be argued that mining and resource companies have provided the feedstock – both real and metaphorical – for the global carbon-based economy that is beginning to show the symptoms of misplaced business and market values.