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Longer, analytical article.  Communities, companies and conflict

Summary & Comment: Mining projects are often established on land which is already occupied and used by people who depend on farming, ranching, fishing and artisanal mining for their livelihoods. The establishment of a mining project will therefore cause changes in the environment, economy and society of these people. These changes can either be positive or negative. A new report by the Centre For Natural Resource Governance in Zimbabwe looks into these developments. MM

Author: Centre For Natural Resource Governance Date Written: 2 November 2015
Primary Category: Zimbabwe Document Origin: Kubatana
Secondary Category: Resource Extraction Source URL: http://www.kubatana.net
Key Words: Mining, environment, communities

African Charter Article #22: All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development within the common heritage of humanity . (Click for full text...)



Printable Version
http://www.kubatana.net/2015/11/03/8607/communities-companies-and-conflict/

Mining projects are often established on land which is already occupied and used by people who depend on farming, ranching, fishing and artisanal mining for their livelihoods. The establishment of a mining project will therefore cause changes in the environment, economy and society of these people. These changes can either be positive or negative. Positive changes are associated with enhanced welfare of the society through responsible mining that is socially and environmentally sensitive.†

Meanwhile, negative changes are associated irresponsible mining that diminishes the welfare of host communities through environmental degradation, destruction of the means of livelihoods and other social costs. The establishment of a mining project raises the hopes and expectations of host communities. Mining projects come with the promise of development in the form of job creation, infrastructure improvements such as roads and improved service delivery. Yet hope is deferred as mining companies claim they want to recoup capital expenses and eventually the hope fades away as companies declare losses, retrench staff and shuts down once the mineral is depleted. It is left to the community to ponder means of reclaiming its amputated environment, with no financial resources to assist them.†

The host communities are found having to contemplate whether the arrival of a mine investment will improve or deteriorate community welfare and to what extent. Foretelling the magnitude and nature of these changes is hard enough for everyone and more so for rural dwellers who usually have no access to critical information such as mining contracts, mine plans, environmental impact assessments and community development plans. The government and mining companies often lack full disclosure of information and engaging communities on the negative impacts. Without full disclosure, communities often end up with expectations that far exceed what the miners are capable of providing. Host communities often find themselves having to face the reality of environmental degradation, interruption of livelihoods and cultural invasion with little return by way of benefits. This situation leads to conflicts between communities and mining companies. 5 Company-community conflict can also arise because change is experienced differently by different stakeholders and can be inequitable or incompatible with community membersí values and interests (Davis & Franks, 2014). Conflicts within the natural resource sector have attracted greater attention and scrutiny from scholars, governments and non-governmental organizations in recent times. The impacts of mining companies on the surrounding community and the distribution of the costs and benefits of resource development and community involvement in decision making influence the nature of company community relations.†

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