Every year EWB Canada holds its annual conference; for the first time this year, the conference had a special focus on the mining industry and tackled some of its challenges through a series of workshops and sessions.
The mining stream revolved around the question of how mining could “work” for development; what conditions need to be in place for mining to advance development outcomes? What opportunities exist for private companies to do more for development? How can communities and companies work in local partnerships?
One of my favourite session was the “Making Mining Work for Development: An Interactive Role-Play”. This session, organized by consulting company Hatch was both fun and constructive. We were divided into five groups representing exactly the client, the local businesses, the international businesses and NGOs. The projected consisted in the construction of a nickel mine in a remote location in Africa. Each one of the groups was given a set of contracts that needed to be signed between the groups prior to the construction of the mine. It was really challenging to satisfy the project constraints as well as the expectations of each group. This session gave us a good sense of the complexity of mining projects. It was a privilege to have Kinross Vice President of Corporate Responsibility, Ed Opitz as one of the members of my group. His input was really valuable and he explained to us how in real life those kinds of projects were handled.
Mining is a big player in development. In Africa for example, a mine will hire the local workforce, provide training, education and local procurement. Although the mining industry is far from perfect, there is a progress in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Mining companies are becoming more aware of the importance of CSR and its positive impacts.
Overall, the conference was a real blast! I met with many EWB delegates form all over Canada; I felt inspired by the story of the women and men from the Kumvana delegation who fought for their education, who still fight to better the future of their communities. I was particularly touched by Nafisa Adams’ courage and strong will. After fighting her way to school, Nafisa decided to go back to her community village in Ghana and give hope to the women there. She founded the Beads of Hope Ghana. This business provides the opportunity to the women to bead simple jewelry while becoming more economically independent.
The conference showed me that there is potential in each one of us to make a positive #change. I am ready to put that positive attitude in action and continue working hard to promote sustainability in mining!
PS: Did you know that EWB Canada has a Mining Shared Value venture! Not sure what it means? Mining shared Value is about helping Canadian mining companies maximize local procurement of goods and services so that the host countries gain economical and social benefits from the mining activities.
PPS: You can follow the Mining shared Value on twitter @ewb_msv