The mining industry is constantly striving to balance evolving stakeholder and shareholder expectations, but calamitous environmental disasters such as Vale’s latest tailings dam burst in Brazil, can massively set back those efforts.
It was therefore imperative for the industry to innovate and look at new ways to create stronger social contracts and pursue technological advances to ensure mines of the future achieve permitting and development, a PDAC 2019 panel session on sustainable mining practices heard this week.
“We need to start building mines we the people want to look at. We need to better strike a balance between growth and green imperatives,” Environmental Resources Management global head Louise Pearce said in Toronto.
The measured panel discussion stood in stark contrast to events outside the convention centre where Toronto-based nongovernmental organisation Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and MiningWatch Canada led a demonstration against Vale and the PDAC on Monday. The group wanted to draw attention to what they called “Vale’s crimes” and the “PDAC’s complicity”.
“In addition to the 186 people killed, 122 are still missing and presumed dead near Vale’s mine in Brazil. Clean up has barely begun and yet the PDAC is welcoming Vale (as patron sponsor) with open arms. It’s business as usual at this convention,” said Caren Weisbart of the MISN.
The group argued all PDAC’s sponsors (including the TMX for listing 60% of global mining equities) had “well documented track records of corruption, impunity and serious human rights and environmental abuses – from Vale to Barrick Gold, Goldcorp, HudBay Minerals, SNC-Lavalin” and others.
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