CSR within the mining sector has evolved to become a central part of mine-community relations. Mining companies now accept that the communities affected by their operations need to have basic services like water, health care, electricity and sanitation. Developing a mine presents an opportunity to improve conditions within these communities; and unless the community benefits, the mine risks becoming an enclave.
There are a number of international initiatives and associations that promote best practices and CSR within the mining sector, with the following being the most recognised worldwide:
The United Nations Global Compact initiative in which companies self-evaluate and report their performance regarding 10 principles which observe the following:
The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) which is organized by the largest mining companies in the world and is the main industry framework for sustainable development and CSR. The ICMM makes its members accountable for the fulfillment of the 10 principles for sustainable development, including:
Frameworks established by financing bodies such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – where all private sector projects that are financed even partly by the IFC have to comply with its performance standards.
In addition, many Mining companies now pursue certifications such as ISO 14000 (environmental certification), SA 8000 (working conditions certification) and AA1000 (accountability certification) as well as making efforts to be listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes.
Many major mining companies also publish annual sustainability and CSR reports in addition to more conventional financial reports in an attempt to satisfy the new international stance, even where the operating conditions do not make it mandatory.
Given the recently promulgated indigenisation and empowerment laws in Zimbabwe, it is envisaged that Corporate Social Responsibility programs will begin to form a major component of the compliance package for indigenisation and economic empowerment within the mining sector.
The Zimbabwean government has confirmed that the 51% threshold should be a combination of direct equity and credits earned through corporate social investment made up of skills development, support to tertiary institutions and small to medium enterprises, local procurement, assistance to small scale miners and infrastructural development as well as any other economically or socially desirable activities agreed with the community.
It is therefore imperative that mining companies within Zimbabwe reassess their CSR programs to ensure that they are reaping the maximum benefit from their investments into the community, by fostering a continuous, positive relationship with their surrounding community as well as ensuring that their CSR projects are taken into account from a governmental stand point.