Penny wise and pound foolish: Why Canadian mining companies must measure and address human rights impacts early in a project – by Edie Hofmeister (CIM Magazine – November 12, 2020)

On a recent visit to a mining project in South America, I overheard a mining engineer thank the community relations director for building strong local support for the mine.

The engineer continued with a laugh, “But it’s not like your job is rocket science.” He’s right, I thought. It’s harder than rocket science. It involves people, politics, culture, land, socio-economic struggles, shifting expectations and community needs.

As they enter their tenth auspicious year, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can help address that formidable challenge.

In 2011, the Canadian government and the international business community overwhelmingly supported the passage of the non-binding principles, which obligate companies to respect human rights and to conduct “due diligence” to identify, evaluate and address the adverse effects of business activities on human rights.

This type of study often takes the form of a human rights impact assessment, which represents a critical first step to gathering local data about an operation and building early trust within communities.

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