Stock markets should reward Canadian mining companies for practising social responsibility, expert says – by Marco Chown Oved (Toronto Star – January 23, 2014)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

A former mining executive says that if financial analysts better understood corporate social responsibility, worthy companies would see their stocks soar. It’s not the ore in the ground, nor the mineral exploration licences, but commitment to environmental sustainability, community development and human rights that are Canadian mining companies’ most underappreciated assets, a former mining executive said Monday.

If financial analysts better understood these things, companies that excel in “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) would see their stock rise while industry laggards would have theirs pushed down, said Craig Ford, the former vice president for corporate responsibility at Inmet Mining Corporation.

“You can have the greatest ore body in the world and if you can’t build the privilege to operate, then who cares?” Ford said. “Unfortunately, that seems to be lost on some people. They see the asset in the ground, they see the foundations going up, and they put more value in those assets.”

Ford, who now advises mining companies on CSR through his company NPB Consulting, was speaking to an audience of 50 at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management on Monday.

The stock market has penalized companies that aren’t practising social responsibility for destroying shareholder value.

“Companies that are going to say, ‘I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money’ to act responsibly, those are dinosaurs who don’t understand this business,” Ford said. “They should cease to exist.”

Canadian companies dominate the world of mining. Close to 60 per cent of the world’s mining companies are listed on Canadian stock exchanges, with more than 1,000 companies operating in more than 100 countries, according to the Mining Association of Canada.

Out of sight of the Canadian public, they have also behaved in ways that led to a fierce backlash in the developing world. Affected communities in Peru, Guatemala and Congo, for example, have accused Canadian companies of environmental and human rights abuses.

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