Take physic, pomp

The new Oxfam report on mining in Central America

Via the excellent Tim’s El Salvador Blog, word reaches IKN that Oxfam has published a new report entitled “Metals, mining, and sustainable development in Central America” (get your copy of the report by clicking that title).

Now for sure, there are plenty involved in the mining industry that will read that first paragraph and roll their eyes while thinking “oh, gawd, another bunch of treehuggers that want to ban mining”, but those eye-rollers would be wrong. Yes, the report is critical. Yes it does clearly point out that miners often exaggerate the potential benefits of a project to the local and national community and downplay the negatives that are then later experienced by those living in the area. But no, this isn’t one of those “ban the dirty, horrible smelly miners” hit pieces.

What it does do is examine the patchy track record of mining companies over the last decades and say “look guys, you can’t treat people like this any more”. Here’s the final paragraph of the conclusion to give you an idea:

Given the high stakes involved, local communities must play a pivotal role in project and policy decision-making. This should start with universal support for communities’ right to free, prior, and informed consent. To support that consent process, host governments and mining companies should create a space in the public discourse where stakeholders’ interests can be respected and reconciled. This is especially true in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, where political and social factors may limit the role of certain groups, such as indigenous peoples, in the policy-making process.
I think that’s fair enough, and the enlightened mining companies of this world have now been operating responsible practices like these and more (and variations thereof) for plenty of years. With its report Oxfam is critical but constructive, laying out both sides, showing what hasn’t been done right in Central America and saying how the industry could and, in its opinion, should move forward.

This is a useful report that gives the mining industry the other view without resorting to hyperbole and is highly recommended. Here’s the link to the 40 page PDF report again, so there’s no excuse. Wiser mineheads will read it.

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