Guidelines might help manage the social side of mining closures

22 November 2019 2 min. read
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Mining advisory firm SRK Consulting has once again reiterated the need for better management of social transitions in the mining space, positioning regulation and standardisation as crucial measures in this regard. The stand was relayed to Mining Weekly by Senior Social Scientist at SRK Consutling Jessica Edwards.

Mining is a crucial segment of the South African economy, and as the cycle of mining discoveries and closures intensifies, industry blind spots are coming to light. According to Edwards, most expertise in the mining space – particularly when it comes to closures – lies in the physical sphere.

Given that the mining sector is traditionally populated by engineering, technicians and financiers, closures are perceived in an overwhelmingly practical light. However, there is a prominent social side to mining closures, as a number of communities depend on the resources involved, including the jobs that a mine has to offer.

Guidelines might help manage the social side of mining closures

SRK Consulting, which is among the central authorities advising the mining sector in South Africa, has been putting the spotlight on social issues recently. In October, Edwards stated the importance of a more rounded approach to mining closures, taking into consideration the views of multiple stakeholders. 

According to Edwards, while efforts have been made to involve various stakeholders in the decision-making process, there remains inertia to coming up with more innovative arrangements wherein individual stakeholders can participate more and better determine their social position.

Now, Edwards has stressed that a set of guidelines is necessary to ensure that such measures gain momentum across the sector. “These guidelines could hopefully stimulate dialogue on the principles of the social transition process and enable stakeholders, such as government, communities and developers, to contribute to a more holistic understanding of the resource and capacity requirements,” said Edwards.

“General guidelines could require mining companies to develop a good understanding of their host communities in terms of their needs, vulnerabilities and assets. A solid grasp of these baseline factors is critical in developing strategies towards social transition,” she added.