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Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, pp.

5-20, 2003
2004 Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum.
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Human Rights and the Minerals Industry: Challenges for Geoscientists

University of British Columbia
Department of Mining Engineering
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z4
Received December 6, 2002; accepted December 8, 2003.

Abstract In many mining areas, potentially profitable mineral projects can be at risk because
local people do not trust their governments and mining companies on many issues, including human
rights. Projects will continue to be vulnerable to potential failure, delays, and higher costs. This
paper suggests that geoscientists need to be aware of the global challenges they face from issues of
corporate social responsibility, sustainable development, and human rights. These are not areas in
which geoscience education has traditionally focused.
This paper examines the types of conflict concerning human rights that are encountered by geoscientists involved in mineral exploration and development. It provides a background to human
rights issues and presents a classification of the types of issue encountered. It reports on a survey of
case studies that provide examples of the breadth, complexities, and consequences of such issues.
The paper then concludes by outlining the development of codes and standards to improve performance, and suggests approaches for positive, practical engagement. 2004 Canadian Institute of
Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum. All rights reserved.


guidelines for geoscientists for establishing and making

operational a human rights program that is sensitive to (1)
business and operational needs, (2) local communities, (3)
host countries and their laws, and (4) evolving international
norms of human rights.

A decade ago, if you asked a geologist or mining engineer what would be necessary to establish and operate a
mine successfully, you would undoubtedly hear about
proven reserves, ore grade, and myriad engineering necessities. Today if you asked that same question, the answer
would also emphasize such topics as sustainable development, environmental protection, and human rights. Many
potentially economic mining operations falter because of
social issues as much as geological or engineering challenges. There appear to be two principal reasons. First, local
communities are much more aware of their rights to determine their future, to enjoy their land, and to live without fear
of violence and degradation. Second, technology now makes
information available to local communities and connects
even the most remote settlement to the wider world through
television and the Internet. In our world today, mining ventures are not hidden but clearly visible to society. Even small
operations can, and often do, appear prominently on the
world wide web and on global television broadcasts.
Because many geoscientists (those professionals
involved in minerals exploration and development) have little formal grounding in human rights, this paper attempts to
review the nature and evolution of the basic issues of this
important topic. It then focuses on case studies of mineral
developments that have dealt with human rights challenges
and issues. Finally, suggestions are made to set out practical

What Are Human Rights?

Human rights that impact peoples lives include a set of
civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, as
clearly articulated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (United Nations, 1948). These rights, along
with two covenants one on civil and political rights, the
other on economic, social, and cultural rights (United
Nations, 1966a, 1966b) have been accepted by most
national governments worldwide. There are also many International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions that define
human rights, such as those concerning forced labor (ILO,
1930, 1957a), freedom of association and protection of the
right to organize (ILO, 1948, 1949, 1971), health and safety
(ILO, 1981, 1995), and indigenous and tribal peoples rights
(ILO, 1957b, 1989).
Under international law, the Nation State has the prime
responsibility for human rights, although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that every individual
and organ of society shall promote respect for human rights.
However, the concept of human rights has many different

Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

connotations and implications for different countries, international organizations, NGOs, and corporations.
Mining companies themselves have some specific
rights: for example, they require the right of freedom of
association to function as a corporation, and property rights
that allow them to develop their projects and accumulate
wealth. They also deserve the rights to non-discriminatory
treatment, physical security, free speech, and participation in
the political process, especially where fiscal and regulatory
issues are concerned. On the other hand, they are challenged
in the field by the rights of unions to associate and engage in
collective bargaining, ethnic and other forms of discrimination, conflict between local communities and regions with
the central government, entitlements to benefits, freedom of
expression, security, and property.

Human rights, environmental, and development

NGOs, as well as community-based organizations
(CBOs), are more concerned with economic, social, and
cultural rights. Many issues involving indigenous peoples
are related to violations of property and cultural rights
that concern, for example, access to clean water and agricultural land.
A core group of rights relevant to mining can be identified in proposals put forward by civil society organizations
and inter-governmental organizations. These proposals
overlap in many areas, as shown in Table 1. In particular,
Amnesty International suggested that those working for
mining companies have specific obligations to ensure that
they do not condone or promote the infringement of rights
by other parties (Sullivan and Frankental, 2001).

Table 1. Human Rights Principles (after Handelsman, 2002)

Amnesty International (1998)

Global Compact Principle/Number

(Annan, 1999)*

1. Company policy on human rights.

1. Support and respect protection of

international human rights within
sphere of influence.

2. Security: ensure security

arrangements protect human rights.

2. Make sure not complicit in

human rights abuses.

Confederation of Norwegian
Business and Industry (NHO, 1998)

Fundamental Rights
(Donaldson, 1989)

Freedom of physical

3. Community engagement: avoid

negative impact on human rights in
the community; discuss role of
company in the community.
4. Freedom from discrimination
(ethnic origin, sex, color, language,
national or social origin, economic
statue, religion political or other
beliefs, birth or other status,
recruitment, promotion, remuneration,
working conditions, etc.).

6. Uphold the elimination of

discrimination in respect of
employment and occupation.

Freedom from discrimination.

Right of minorities and indigenous
peoples to protect their identity.
Right to education.

Basic education.

5. Freedom from slavery: company

and suppliers, partners and contractors
(forced labor, exploitative child labor,
coerced prison labor).

4. Uphold the elimination of all

forms of forced and compulsory labor.
5. Uphold the effective abolition of
child labour.

Ban on slavery.
Ban on torture.

Freedom from torture.

6. Health and safety: safe and healthy

working conditions, (avoid corporal
punishment, mental or physical
coercion, or verbal abuse).

7. Support a precautionary approach

to environmental challenges.

Right to personal safety and security.

Physical security.

7. Freedom of association and the

right to collective bargaining with
company, suppliers, partners,
contractors (ensure these rights if
not protected in local law).

3. Uphold freedom of association

and the effective recognition of
the right to collective bargaining.

Freedom of opinion and expression.

Freedom of peaceful assembly
and association.
Right to free participation in
political life.

Freedom of speech and

Political participation.

Right to work.
Right to rest and leisure.
Right to adequate standard of living.


8. Fair working conditions

(conditions of work, reasonable
job security, fair and adequate
remuneration and benefits).
9. Monitor human rights: Establish
effective, independent verification
and monitoring mechanisms.

Fair trial.

8. Undertake initiatives to promote

greater environmental responsibility.
9. Encourage the development and
diffusion of environmentally friendly
*The Global Compact includes environmental principles.

Property ownership.

Human Rights and the Minerals Industry S.D. HANDELSMAN ET AL.

Key Human Rights Issues

Examples of the focal points of conflict concerning
human rights and mineral exploration and development
activities include (Handelsman, 2002):
the use of security companies to protect operations
(US/UK, 2000);
the rights of indigenous peoples in the areas of mining
operations (ICME, 1999);
issues of conflict relating to labor rights, especially the
right to organize (Sullivan and Frankental, 2001);
issues of pariah (or failing) states, such as Burma,
which have a record of human rights abuses (Jungk,
2001a, 2001b); and
issues of conflict between sub-jurisdictions and
national jurisdiction, and the extent to which a mining
company is subject to one or the other when the two
are in conflict.
The principal reasons why human rights and the minerals industry merit attention on the part of geoscientists

Points of Conflict
There are, as mentioned above, five main focal points of
conflict between mineral exploration and development
activities and human rights issues.

Use of Security Forces

Security and human rights abuses relating to state or
private security forces are among the most clearly defined
issues. Because of national sovereignty, mining companies
cannot exert direct control over the behavior of security
forces when they belong to the state. When a company asks
or expects a government to provide reasonable protection
for its assets and employees, the company may have expectations of behavior that conform to the norms of its home
country, or those expected by their shareholders. However,
the host government may in fact care less about the human
rights of its vulnerable populations than does the company.
In most countries, surface and subsurface minerals are
owned by the state, and various legal and regulatory frameworks (e.g., contracts of work (COW), concessions, licenses,
permits, and claims systems) control how mining companies
may extract resources and build facilities. The mining company will also have to come to terms with private or public
owners of surface rights. There is also a range of conditions
relating to sovereignty, ranging from complete retention of
ownership and control of resources by governments, through
partial ownership arrangements between mining companies
and governments, to complete private control of resources
where companies are expected to pay royalties and taxes. In

Indonesia, for example, under the COW system, the ownership of mineral resources rests with the state, as does any
equipment brought in by the mining company for the operation. Freeports Indonesian mine, for example, is further categorized as a strategic project whereby the government
asserts its rights to protect the project (a state asset) using the
police or military in whatever way it deems appropriate
(regardless even of what the company is doing or wishes), as
it did in the example discussed later.
In many countries, mining companies are allowed to
use private security forces (in some countries armed, in others not), and in some circumstances companies may invite
state security forces to assist. Companies bear obvious
responsibility for the behavior of their own or contracted
private security forces, but they are also held responsible for
complicity in any abusive behavior by public security forces
that they have asked for protection. Although they do not
have control over how police or military forces behave, it is
essential that geoscientists are aware of the local culture and
history of security force behavior.
One reason mining companies have had to focus on
human rights is because of security issues and associated
abuses of human rights caused by the use of police and security forces, private security companies, and mercenaries in
countries as geographically diverse as Colombia, Indonesia,
Papua New Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, and Angola. Because these abuses are believed to occur
in direct consequence of the presence of the mining company, the company is held accountable for preventing such
abuses. The use of natural resources to fund conflicts has also
drawn adverse public attention to the mining industry, as in
the case of conflict diamonds in Angola, Sierra Leone, etc.
It is therefore essential to make sure the company has in
place as many positive programs and safeguards as possible
to avoid human rights abuses, because it may have little or
no control over the local public security forces (Lilly, 2000).

Indigenous People
Some countries, such as Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and
Venezuela, acknowledge that indigenous people should be
engaged in prior consultations about whether resources
should be developed. However, there are concerns whether
the constitutional provisions that established collective
rights of indigenous people for consultation about developments of non-renewable resources are effective, or merely a
courtesy (Amnesty International, 2002). Only in industrial
nations with indigenous populations (Australia, Canada,
Norway, and the United States) can it be asserted that
indigenous people enjoy an effective right to prior consultation about natural resource developments on their traditional
lands (ICME, 1999).
The rights of indigenous people in the areas of mining
operations raise issues concerning ownership of land, power
to make decisions about their future, the entitlement to ben-

Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

efits from development, the appropriate form of community

development, and relationships with government and nonindigenous small-scale and artisanal miners.
Indigenous people might be regarded as being in a distinct category, different from other stakeholders. Business
stakeholders are considered to include employees, contractors, trade unions, consultants, joint-venture partners, suppliers, customers, other companies, and investors. In contrast, non-business stakeholders normally include local
communities, local non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), churches and other community service organizations (CSOs), local government, national government,
national NGOs and other CSOs, international NGOs, host
country governments, and multilateral organizations, as well
as indigenous people (Cooney, 2001). However, indigenous
communities, people, and nations were defined by the
United Nations as those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies, [and who]
consider themselves distinct from other sectors of societies
now prevailing in those territories or parts of them. They
form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are
determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations, their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity,
as the basis of their continued existence as peoples in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions,
and legal systems (United Nations, 1987, para. 379). They
thus have a uniquely important status among stakeholders.

Labor Rights
The degree of respect for labor rights within the mining
corporation itself is an important test of its overall respect for
human rights. Labor rights are human rights that encompass
the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, in connection with all other rights. ILO conventions
define such rights as those relating to forced labor, child labor,
health and safety, etc. Labor rights can generate specific
points of conflict: for example, six trade unionists per month
are killed in Colombia, and the right to collective bargaining
is weak in China (Kovalik, 2001; ICFTU, 2003). Trade unions
have occasionally negotiated clauses in their labor contracts
involving employee monitoring of human rights abuses.
The mining industry has a reputation in some quarters
for using workers only for hard labor. A perception is that
they are not paid to think, and if they do, they are punished.
With an average of eighteen years of service per worker in
the United States coal mining industry, labor believes that it
has a lot of good ideas to offer, but believes that it is blocked
because if management accepts this then it would in effect
have to give up some of its powers to the worker. Although
the potential benefits are huge, the conflict culture often held
by front line managers may be hard to change because they
feel threatened.
Abuses by contractors, suppliers, and partners of mining companies (including governments and their agencies,

other mining companies and financial institutions) are seen

to reflect on a mining companys own performance (Sullivan and Frankental, 2001). Although major mining companies do not employ child labor in their operations, they are
challenged to protect vulnerable groups when the indirect
supply chain that sustains or services their operations
causes concern; examples could include mine camps, prostitution, food services, or using children or the use of child
labor in upstream activities, such as diamond polishing
(Danailov, 1998).
The rights of labor are seen by some as a fundamental
component of sustainable development. The lack of respect
for the rights of labor can be used by radical groups to
mount global attacks on multinational corporations and the
international structures that support them, such as the World
Trade Organisation.

Pariah or Failing States

Mining companies working in pariah or failing
states (such as Burma and Sudan) that may be regarded as
human rights abusers attract attention because any industrial
activity can be interpreted as support for a repressive
regime. In this situation, there is a clear point of conflict
with civil society on human rights issues. Questions are
raised by critics of such countries about the legitimacy of the
regime and its right to allow foreign companies to develop
the states resources. However, there are also gradations of
acceptability in the case of certain states with varying levels of human rights abuses.

National and Regional Jurisdiction Conflict

Projects are challenged by a growing realization that in
countries with weak or undemocratic governments, the taxes
and revenues from mining operations are not benefiting the
local communities, and may not even be providing benefits
to the economic and social development of the country
(Hodges, 2001). A human rights approach to development
and poverty elimination includes a focus on the needs identified by poor people, and encourages their participation at
all stages (Husermann, 1998).
Some governments are making changes in the way mining royalties are distributed, and even how decisions about
mining projects are decided. They are making provisions to
involve people from affected communities in the decisionmaking process, and for mining royalties/taxes to be shared
between the central, regional, and local governments. However, devolution of authority from a federal government to
the district and provincial level, especially in countries with
weak institutions, requires the strengthening of local technical and decision-making capacity to deal with problems in a
credible way, although this may be difficult to establish.

Human Rights and the Minerals Industry S.D. HANDELSMAN ET AL.

Rights-related conflicts that impact projects revolve

around sub-jurisdictions versus national jurisdiction, and the
extent to which mining companies are subject to one or the
other when the two are in conflict, e.g., central government
versus local government and community, as in Indonesia
and Papua New Guinea. There are many arguments about
sharing the economic rent from mineral resources. In the
past the argument was principally between the mining company and the host government. The responsibility of the
state to distribute the benefits in whatever way it determined
was a matter of national sovereignty. Often the benefits were
not distributed to the community. There may be a competing
set of priorities for governments to decide between the mining community, the local community, indigenous people, or
to support poorer people in other parts of the country.
In order to ensure their projects evolve responsibly with
the optimum chances of success, geoscientists should be
mindful that communities may claim development rights that
do not have clear boundaries, and which are seen to depend
on the relationship of the community to the land and the area,
how long the community has been there, and the fragility of
its culture. Do such rights mean that communities have to be
involved with decisions, or should be required to give
informed prior consent? A challenge posed by the development rights of communities is whether trade-offs, e.g.,
between social benefits to local communities and government revenues against the environmental degradation and
social costs, are acceptable when determining whether
resources should be developed (Veiga et al., 2001). However,
because there are fundamental conflicts between rights and
well-being, conflicts between an individuals rights versus
community rights, and conflicts between community rights
versus national rights, it is not clear that a rights calculus will
produce the maximum well-being. It is a social issue, not an
engineering area, but because the projects are the catalyst for
the problems, geoscientists must become engaged in a positive way. Nevertheless, the final responsibility for resolving
the issues lies with the leaders of the stakeholder groups.

Rights and Sustainable Development

The relationship of rights (civil and political rights, as
well as economic, social and cultural rights) to sustainable
community development in the vicinity (impact zone) of
mines is cause for concern for geoscientists. Conceptually,
mining activities in the context of sustainable development
raise a number of questions about human rights, such as the
rights of stakeholders to be engaged in not only the recognition of community rights but also in decisions related to
mine development, operations, and closure, and the right to
benefit from mine developments in their local area. This
encompasses issues of a countrys capacity to exercise its
rights, of local community rights versus those of a broader
group of stakeholders, the economic development rights of

communities, inter-generation rights, and the right to determine whether resources should be developed.

Mine Life Cycle Issues

The earliest impact of the minerals cycle on human
rights in a country occurs at the exploration stage. During
initial prospecting, geoscientists and others require access to
the land to make preliminary technical assessments. Human
rights concerns at this stage relate to the question of adequate compensation for access and any damage caused.
Compensation to landowners for their losses of property
rights may need to take into account the right to a similar
standard of living as that which the land had previously provided. Communities may also have unrealistic expectations
about the potential benefits they could receive from a project, and exploration personnel may be tempted to exaggerate the potential benefits to local communities in order to
facilitate access. The traditional view of the prospector
might be someone who is used to working alone in remote
areas, and such people may not have experience in engaging
with communities to build good public relations.
In the past, local community rights to lands and
resources were frequently ignored by industry. Some were
accused of taking advantage of local conflicts to deflect local
dissension, and others of engagement in bribery and corruption to gain favor with community leaders or influential individuals in order to bypass legitimate procedures to obtain
title. Throughout the mine life cycle, some local politicians,
private land owners, wealthy and powerful business people,
and church and other leaders may be exerting improper influence or intimidation. Human rights, conflict, and corruption
issues intersect and overlap. The consequences of corruption
(as a means to obtain resources) are conflicts that lead to
human rights abuses. A detailed examination of conflicts and
corruption over natural resources merits separate studies.
At the development stage, there are increased impacts on
the local community including environmental issues, relocation, and increased business activities supporting the project
that distort the local economy. Legislation is evolving that
recognizes public participation rights in decision-making
about natural resource projects (United Nations, 2001).
During mining operations, new issues such as workers
rights, community development, the share of economic rent,
and the use of security forces become important. Major
issues during mine closure include addressing post-closure
expectations, the impact on the community, and the sustainability of the economy.

Case Studies of Human Rights Issues

An examination of 93 cases (60 in the past three years;
81 in the last decade) in some 51 countries where there were
allegations of human rights abuses involving mineral explo-


Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

ration and development shows that they may be broadly characterized according to the type of conflict. The most serious
abuses of human rights arise from public and private security
activities around mining exploration and development sites.
Other cases involve the rights of indigenous peoples, child
labor and other labor issues, health and safety, property ownership, access to justice, life and liberty, or cruel and unusual
punishment. Conflicts also arise that encompass local community input, land issues, benefits, and revenue allocation
stemming from corruption. The following summaries, covering some of the more prominent characteristics, illustrate the
breadth of issues that need to be confronted.

owned by a Canadian junior mining company, and a violent

confrontation ensued involving the police and military in
which nine people were killed and 32 wounded (IACHR,
1997). Although the junior company had limited financial
capacity, it had a board of prominent, capable, experienced
directors who might have provided appropriate leadership to
avoid the conflict. The company maintains it was not
responsible for the tragedy, and its annual reports have not
addressed any need to change its approach to the underlying
issues (Handelsman, 2003).

Forced Labor
Exploration Stage Issues
Lack of human relationship skills and sensitivity to the
concerns of others can lead to confrontation, such as that
experienced by CRA Exploration on Bougainville Island in
1964 when villagers told the company We dont want any
prospectors in this area (Denoon, 2000, p. 62). There was
opposition to mining on Bougainville from the very beginning. Bougainvilleans felt that their permission had not been
sought Negotiations had been made according to the principles of Australian law, whereby anything below the surface,
such as minerals, belonged to the government rather than the
land titleholders. This ruling was at odds with traditional
ownership laws (Australia, 1999, p.18). The Bougainvilleans were not thought seriously to threaten the Panguna
mine until a bloody rebellion resulted in the destruction of
both the islands infrastructure and its administration and
closed the mine in 1989 (Sillitoe, 2000, p. 133).

Development Stage Issues

Local opposition at Tambogrande, Peru, to a new gold
mining project that requires moving the town has caused significant costs and ongoing delays to the project (Moran, 2001).
A similar case currently exists at Esquel, Argentina,
where a striking lack of consistent and comprehensive
engagement with the local community to hear concerns
and address them, and an attitude of disregard for the
Esquel community in the actions and attitudes of some
key MED [Minera El Desquite] personnel (BSR, 2003,
p. 6) led to a vote by 75% of eligible voters in the community with 80% against the project in March 2003. This has
jeopardized a US$310.1 million acquisition investment
made by Meridian Gold in 2002 (Meridian Gold, 2003).

Mining Stage Issues

At Amayapampa in Bolivia, an underlying internal
workforce/mine management conflict escalated into
hostage-taking in 1996. Workers seized the operations

As recently as the mid-1900s, convicts were essential

for profitable coal mining in the United States (Podobnik,
1998); for example, Alabama supplied convicts to work in
mines up to 1928 (Blackmon, 2001). The convicts were
cheap and were also used when workers went on strike.
Globally, prisoners have frequently been forced to work as
miners in labor camps during periods of war, and there are
recent reports that prisoners have been forced to mine
asbestos without protective clothing in China, and to work at
gold mines in Tibet (Marshall, 1999).

Child Labor
Children comprised as much as 25% of the coal mining
labor force in Nova Scotia, Canada, until 1923, when legislation ended the practice (McIntosh, 2000). The large number of women and children currently working in small-scale
mining operations in developing countries results in workplace fatality rates up to 90 times higher than in industrialized countries (ILO, 1999). Artisinal mining, particularly
alluvial sluice mining, provides examples of social degradation involving children and their families.

The mining industry in the United States experienced
labor and capital conflicts with the Molly Maguires in the
1860s and 1870s, and in the United Kingdom the army was
used against coal miners in the early 20th century. Labor
unrest continues to be an issue in the industry. The Australian Council of Trade Unions complained about Rio
Tintos violation of fundamental workers rights in Australia, specifically the right to collective bargaining
(Maitland, 1999). Other countries continue to experience
strikes and labor disputes. Union officials are being killed at
an unprecedented rate in Colombia; for example, two leaders of the mineworkers union were shot dead after leaving
negotiations with Drummond Coal Company (Kovalik,
2001). When a Colombian labor union went on strike
against a coal mine, the president of the country called in the

Human Rights and the Minerals Industry S.D. HANDELSMAN ET AL.


military to crush the workers rights to freedom of association. Eventually, however, the workers achieved what they
wanted because of external support and pressure brought to
bear on the government, a co-owner of the mine.

(HRW, 1994), and even after the area was declared off limits to outsiders, thousands of illegal gold miners still entered
the area leading to the deaths of more Yanomami in 1998
(United Nations, 1999).

Health and Safety

Illegal Mining Issues

Mining conditions in many countries became safer with

the adoption of standards for health and safety practices, yet
in some jurisdictions archaic conditions still prevail,
although this is no longer the case in the industrialized countries. In other countries there are still reports of many
mining-related deaths which indicates health and safety
problems. For example, during a single week there were
reports from China that 200 miners may have died in a
flooded tin mine in Guangxi (BBC, 2001), while 92 miners
were killed in a coal mine explosion in eastern Jiangsu
(Bangkok Post, 2001). There were 5300 coal mine deaths in
China reported in 2000, and many thousands more said to be
unreported (Eckholm, 2001). South Africa and Russia are
other countries where safety statistics raise questions about
mine worker safety.

Again in Brazil, violence, intimidation, and corruption

by illegal gold miners prevented any effective legal action
by the Macuxi Indians in 1998 (United Nations, 1999).
There is no doubt that there have been abuses of human
rights and indigenous peoples rights by illegal miners in
Indonesia. Some NGOs focus on the major mining corporations but say little about the extensive illegal gold mining.
Rich national business interests exist in the background to
these illegal activities, which conflict with legal mining
(McBeth, 1999). Some NGOs want to cease all new mining
activities in Indonesia and to urge the government to revoke
all mining licenses/permits given to all mining companies
(JATAM, 1999, p. 1). Illegal coal mining is taking place on a
major scale, supported by provincial and military officials
as well as local businessmen (McBeth, 1999). For example,
4 Mt of the total annual production of 22 Mt of coal in South
Kalamantan is estimated to have been mined illegally. It was
reported that the South Kalamantan governor was convinced
that masterminds just use local people as a shield to safeguard their illegal businesses, and he suggested that a simplified procedure was required for providing mining permits
to local people (MiningIndo, 2001).
Illegal and illegitimate activities employed to obtain
access to natural resources lead to human rights abuses in
many of the categories enumerated herein.

Security Force Issues

An example of concerns about the interaction between
mining companies and private security providers is the
Sandline affair in 1997, when the Papua New Guinea government contracted mercenaries to recapture Bougainville
Island following the uprising of 1989, attracting worldwide
attention (Correy, 1997). However, before the mercenaries
arrived, the army arrested Sandline officials and the Prime
Minister resigned (Australia, 1999).
The activities of Executive Outcomes and its relationship with Branch Energy in Sierra Leone, other African
countries, and elsewhere also gained the focus of public
attention (Correy, 1996; Mail & Guardian, 1997).

Indigenous Peoples Issues

A major concern is the removal and relocation of
indigenous people. For example, phosphate mining on
Nauru reportedly left over 80% of the island uninhabitable
(Pukrop, 1997).
Illustrations of points of conflict with indigenous people are found in the Amazon regions of Brazil, Venezuela,
Ecuador, and Peru. In Brazil, there are efforts to prevent the
Brazilian government from taking more Indian land for mining, logging, agricultural, and other uses. Nevertheless,
Brazilian Indians still complain that the rainforest is increasingly threatened by mining companies (Reuters, 2001). In
the early 1990s, intrusion by Brazilian garimpeiros (gold
miners) into Yanomami lands led to thousands of deaths

Freeport McMoRan1
Freeport McMoRan operates the giant Grasberg mine,
one of the largest and lowest cost copper and gold mines in
the world, in West Papua province, Indonesia. In this region,
the Amungume and other indigenous people are Melanesians, and are ethnically and culturally distinct from other
people in Indonesia. There have been periodic and widely
spaced clashes between Indonesian security forces and freedom fighters representing these indigenous groups (OPM
the Free Papua Movement).
In 1994 and 1995, a series of human rights abuses in the
area of Timika, Irian Jaya, included summary executions,
arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, disappearances,
aggressive surveillance, and destruction of property
(Munninghoff, 1995). There were several incidents where
unarmed civilians (including women and children) who
This section is a summary from Handelsman, S.D., 2003. Mining in
Conflict Zones. In Business and Human Rights: Dilemmas and Solutions. Edited by R. Sullivan. Greenleaf Publishing Ltd., Sheffield,
United Kingdom.


Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

were not resisting or endangering security, were murdered

by the Indonesian military.
In November 1994, one Freeport employee was shot
and killed and several wounded. Freeport requested sufficient protection to allow the mine to continue operating and
its employees to be able to live and work safely. The government doubled the number of security forces in the area,
and they took many local people into custody. Some of these
people were never seen again and are presumed dead, while
others, including women, were locked in shipping boxes
under inhumane conditions; the freedom fighters escaped
from the area. Further protests against the Indonesian government led to an incident on Christmas morning when the
Papuan flag was raised in Freeports town of Tembagapura;
five Papuans were arrested, and one was shot and killed
while they were being transported by security forces.
Although government security forces committed the
direct violations, some say the vehicle used by the security
forces to transport the body of the man killed at the flag raising was a Freeport vehicle (denied by Freeport and the security forces). Security forces commandeered a Freeport bus at
gunpoint to transport the five people arrested, and the shipping
container used to hold them for questioning was given to the
security forces by Freeport for storage 12 years previously.
Some assert that these factors, together with the companys
request for additional security force protection, constituted
complicity in human rights violations; Freeport disagreed.
Local people initiated three other events. In January
1996, several World Wide Fund for Nature researchers were
kidnapped from an area about 160 km east of Freeports
mine (all were freed in a security raid in late April 1996,
except two Indonesian hostages who were killed and mutilated by their abductors; Start, 1997). Next, in March 1996,
there were riots in Freeports town of Tembagapura and in
the nearby town of Timika. Then, in April 1996, a lawsuit
was filed in US Federal Court, and later again in Louisiana
state court, alleging that Freeport supported Indonesian
security forces in committing human rights abuses, polluted
traditional lands with mine tailings, and attempted cultural
genocide on the local people. Both cases were eventually
dismissed by the courts.
This combination of events and public pressure influenced Freeport to make changes in its policies and ways of
relating to the local people, resulting in five specific actions
(some of which were controversial, but so far appear to have
been successful):
1. Establishment of the Freeport Fund for Irian Jaya
2. Hiring of a high-level employee to act as a liaison with
security forces.
3. Building of living and recreational facilities for government security forces.
4. Establishment of a corporate social, employment, and
human rights policy.

5. Introduction of human rights training for Freeports

unarmed security personnel (also open to government security personnel), and provision of support for the government
in establishing the rule of law and a legal system for all parties in the area.
Nevertheless, human rights violations continue in the
area. In August 2002, three people were killed (two American teachers and an Indonesian) and eleven were seriously
wounded. Reports in the press implicated Indonesias military in the ambush (denied by the Indonesian army) and the
FBI was sent to investigate.
Freeports management did not acknowledge any role
in the protection of human rights of the local population
until after the accumulation of events in 199496, despite
earlier incidents in the area in 1977 and 1984. Freeport did
not have adequate human rights safeguards in place during
the events that transpired in 1994 and 1996. While this could
be viewed as a serious mistake, it is uncertain whether
Freeport could have prevented these events because the government was asserting its rights to protect a strategic state
asset, although had the company made preparations for such
eventualities, this would have better served both the local
people and itself.
Previously, Freeport was a company that did not engage
in discussions on such problems as the environment and
human rights. However, it has now changed, and is very
much involved and concerned with these issues.

Roles and Responsibilities

Corporations have a major problem with human rights
issues because these rights are easy to assert, but can be difficult to demonstrate. Human rights have thus become a key
legal issue, and cover a broader scope of issues than corporate responsibility, broader even than the question of how
mining can contribute to sustainable development
(Warhurst, 1998). The typical view in the past, that the protection of human rights should be the role of government
and that geoscientists should not be involved because human
rights issues were outside the range of their expertise, is no
longer an adequate defense.
Geoscientists and their management should have to
consider, with appropriate community involvement, what
their companies could do to contribute toward bringing
about positive social and economic benefits, instead of only
seeking to avoid negative social, economic, and environmental impacts. Companies should consider being seen as
contributing to the well-being of local communities, and
thus need to decide to what extent the promotion of human
rights should be included in that objective.

Human Rights and the Minerals Industry S.D. HANDELSMAN ET AL.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

Geoscientists have to be aware that there are many different types of NGOs, not only with diverse political
approaches but also with disparate agendas, ranging from
those who support project development to those who are
actively opposed to all mining activities (no matter how
responsibly run). NGOs often gather information about
human rights situations in a given country, and corporations
should make use of such resources. NGOs can link environmental issues, human rights, the community, the workforce,
wealth distribution, indigenous peoples, and other stakeholders concerns.
In large part, NGOs have defined the issues, and have
challenged the view that corporate objectives and interests
should focus solely on the economic bottom line. The traditional relationship between NGOs and corporations was one
of critic/adversary, but corporations are now looking for
external monitoring to validate their efforts, and are seeking
ways to cooperate with NGOs. The current debate concerns
the changing role of NGOs and their relationship with companies, who want NGOs to take responsibility and put their
reputation on the line (Elliott, 2001). NGOs value their
imprimatur, and many do not want to be seen as too supportive of corporations.
In Brazil, the mining company Companhia Vale do Rio
Doce uses NGOs that specialize in work with indigenous
communities to build capacity for the preservation of their
culture. In addition, they work to create opportunities for
agricultural production, forest management, and the production and sale of local graphics, as well as projects with other
local communities for services such as health, citizenship,
education, culture, art, and sports (CVRD, 2000). CVRD recognizes that it should be pragmatic, and establishes contracts
with NGOs that include targets and performance indicators.


state as it relies on corporate programs and abdicates its

responsibility. It is important that when a company gets
involved with local services, it builds local capacity rather
than replaces it.
Often governments lack capacity in their institutions
due to inadequate staffing or training to perform tasks such
as clear and uniform enforcement of regulations at the field
level. Where central governments are devolving power, the
resulting new legal and regulatory frameworks put stress on
the system to disperse power adequately between the federal, provincial, regional, and community administrations. A
lack of enforcement of local laws and regulations has led to
human rights violations.
Regulatory frameworks are required to implement a
countrys laws and manage local development initiatives
and relations with investors and communities. The
absence of strong institutional frameworks makes the
acquisition of permits and licenses to operate a confusing process, and there are problems if the systems are
not transparent.
It is difficult for staff to operate a mining operation
overseas to the same standards that it would face in the
home country without knowledgeable regulators and inspectors to ensure that the standards and conditions are being
met. This is an essential condition found in developed countries such as Canada, Australia, and the United States, and
while there is always the problem that inspectors may be
paid to ignore infractions, this is generally harder to do in
developed countries.
Some developing countries have well-established legal
and regulatory frameworks, and a vigilant press that monitors and reports any issues. However, despite generally good
attention to working conditions, enforcement at small-scale,
remote operations may be deficient.

Home Governments
Host Governments
Challenges to host governments include the impact
of globalization and trade, a new criticism of national
sovereignty, the balance of power between nation states
and non-state entities, the privatization of functions formerly the exclusive domain of governments, deregulation
to attract investment, and competition between countries
to attract mineral exploration and development
(Danailov, 1998).
Government policies tend to respond to public concern,
but the rapid pace of change of public expectations, especially relating to demands for local community input, challenge government capacity to be responsive. Local, regional,
and national governments are involved in conflicts about the
benefits from projects and how revenues are allocated. There
is a risk that corporate philanthropy will decapacitize the

A major question is whether the business unit is held

accountable to local/host country legal standards or to home
country standards. Where there is comprehensive home
country legislation (for example, Denmark is cited as having
the most formal rights in environmental and energy legislation; Rnne, 2002), some consider it could provide a universal standard for national companies that can be applied
around the world to protect human rights, especially in those
countries where host country laws are considered inadequate to meet recognized international good practice (Steinhardt, 2001). However, home country legislation may conflict with the legislation in other countries where the
corporation does business. For example, it is a violation of
Canadian law for a Canadian company that does business in
the United States to follow U.S. government legislation or
directives against operating in Cuba.


Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

Shareholders, Financial, and Multilateral Organizations

Shareholders and other stakeholders now demand more
transparency and accountability, and some financial institutions will not deal with mining companies that do not act
responsibly. Multilateral and funding organizations are
developing guidelines, standards and codes of conduct
whereby companies with bad reputations will not be able to
access finance as easily. For example, the Equator Principles
are voluntary guidelines for banks (United Nations, 2003;
Equator, 2003).
Pressures to be more socially responsible come from
mining company employees and their shareholders (NGOs
may buy shares so that they can raise issues and question the
companys management at annual general meetings).
Adverse publicity associated with these pressures can lead
to increased costs and difficulties recruiting the most capable and best qualified people.

Role of Geoscientists
Professional and technical associations have recognized
that their members need to understand the increased public
attention since the 1990s to issues of the environment,
human rights, food security, poverty alleviation, and development. For example, in March 2003, the Prospectors and
Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) released an online reference, Environmental Excellence in Exploration
(E3), which was developed to support environmental stewardship at the exploration stage of global mineral development (PDAC, 2003). PDAC encourages sound environmental management practices by the exploration community, its
contractors, and subcontractors, and promotes an awareness
of all stakeholders. Engaging with the community to make
conditions better is more likely to reduce the propensity for
conflict and avoid human rights abuses.
Professional engineers and geoscientists are regulated
to ensure public safety, health, and welfare (e.g., APEGBC,
2002), and several associations have issued human rights
guidelines for their members that reflect societys expectations, principally in employer/employee and workplace situations (Professional Engineers of Ontario, 2000). Such
guidelines are written to ensure that engineers are meeting
their ethical obligations.
Today, geoscientists working for mining companies are
making more effort to inform and consult local communities
(Denoon, 2000). However, the desirability of disclosure and
consultation may conflict with the need for secrecy and confidentiality. It is also often difficult to determine who really
speaks for the community.
Remote areas that have not experienced any prior development have different issues to those experienced in areas
that have previously been exposed to mining. Geologists and
engineers need to examine non-technical issues including
human rights and indigenous concerns. They may face situa-

tions where not all members of the community agree on

development issues; for example, there may be conflicts
between those who perceive minerals industry developments
as having a negative impact on their vested interests, whereas
others may be more interested in the possibilities of employment and economic benefits. It is helpful to develop a policy
to cover social involvement that includes some guidelines on
engaging with local authorities and other groups.
Because economic, social, and cultural rights within
and outside the corporation are considered by many to be as
important as civil and political rights, it is not useful for a
company to consider particular rights in isolation (UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 2001). This suggests that,
when discussing human rights and the companys behavior,
it is necessary for geoscientists and their colleagues to take
a holistic approach. The current approach to planning projects and assessing their impacts appears to be mostly reactive, placing only modest emphasis on integrating the many
soft disciplines and viewpoints. Procedures for reconciling many different viewpoints do not seem to be well-established in the decision-making process. The implication of
supporting human rights is that geologists and engineers
will have to engage in measures and behavior beyond the
labor and environmental issues with which they normally
deal. Demands for this from business and community leaders may hasten this change.
Whereas geoscientists traditionally focus their attention
on their projects and the immediate areas around them, there
are national implications and a national role that has been
less widely discussed. Mining companies that have good
human rights policies have tended to focus only on that
small corner of the country where they operate, not on
national or regional issues. A major consideration for the
future is the role of mining companies on national stages.

Approaches to Solutions
Responding to Expectations
The hierarchy of options for responding to civil societys expectations is as follows:
voluntary initiatives;
engaging in dialog;
existing guidelines;
codes of conduct; and
regulatory requirements.
The wide variety of codes causes difficulties for companies in determining which to adopt. Some codes only have
general principles, whereas others have detailed implementation procedures. Some are intended to provide a general
toolbox that can be adapted to deal with the specific conditions encountered in different countries. Although many of
these codes are not legally binding, there is pressure from
many NGOs to make corporations directly responsible for
human rights abuses. In any event, the codes and principles

Human Rights and the Minerals Industry S.D. HANDELSMAN ET AL.

are considered ineffective unless there is provision for effective independent monitoring and verification of compliance.
Industry initiatives include guidelines and codes of conduct for human rights that define the ethical behavior
expected of professionals. Sectors other than mining have
already developed comprehensive codes of conduct, and
have established standards and implementation methods,
although some NGOs are critical of progress. For example,
after the World Tourism Organization (WTO) held consultations with representatives of the industry, workers, and various NGOs interested in the process, it approved a Global
Code of Ethics for Tourism that includes principles promoting human rights (particularly those of vulnerable groups,
such as children, the elderly, ethnic minorities, and indigenous peoples). This code defines stakeholders obligations,
the need for cultural awareness and sensitivity, and sustainable development, and addresses the rights of workers and
entrepreneurs in the industry (WTO, 1999a). The inclusion
of an article concerning redress of grievances marked the
first time that a code of this type included a mechanism for
enforcement based on conciliation, through the creation of a
World Committee on Tourism Ethics. This committee
includes representatives of each region of the world and representatives of each group of stakeholders in the tourism
sector governments, the private sector, labor, and nongovernmental organizations (WTO, 1999b).
The WTO model could be used by the mining industry.
NGOs have proposed principles for codes of conduct for mining companies (Boas et al., 1998), and the industry should follow the example of some mining companies in engaging with
human rights NGOs to develop effective codes of conduct for
human rights with independent monitoring and verification of
performance. Draft norms for corporations in the area of
human rights, approved by the UN Commission on Human
Rights, are being considered by the UN despite significant
opposition from business interests (United Nations, 2003).
A recent development that may make options for
responding to civil societys expectations more effective is
the establishment of private-public partnerships involving
governments, multilateral organizations, corporations, and
NGOs. In any case, there is a need to build trust and credibility with the various stakeholders groups.
A major question is where should mining companies
and NGOs be going? Some NGOs only want to become
involved if it leads to legislation and stricter government
regulation of corporations, whereas corporations want partnerships to achieve better human rights results through the
voluntary exercise of corporate responsibility. There is a
view that if the NGOs and corporations could agree on the
dimensions of the problem, then they could constructively
explore ways to solve it (Fund for Peace, 2000). Corporations and NGOs are now participating in a number of initiatives together, such as the US-UK Voluntary Principles on
Security and Human Rights, and the UN Global Compact
(Annan, 1999; US/UK, 2000). Some mining companies,


inter alia Freeport McMoRan and Rio Tinto, have developed their own human rights policies.

Benchmarks, Monitoring, and Verification of

Human Rights Performance
There is a need to define reporting systems to monitor
and report on human rights performance, particularly with
respect to vulnerable groups and indigenous populations,
and in jurisdictions where human rights are a matter of concern. However, measuring such performance in a meaningful way is inherently difficult, and is much harder than measuring environmental performance where there are defined
scientific standards and engineering guidelines. A new field
to measure human rights performance is being developed by
academics, auditing firms, human rights NGOs, and others.
Responding to pressure, seven major oil and gas companies, two mining companies, nine NGOs, and two governments developed and wrote voluntary principles on security and human rights. The objective of the code was to
crystallize the best emerging practices and good policy and
meld them together with human rights NGOs recommendations, to develop a framework that balanced the companies
need to deal with serious security threats in dangerous
places, with the NGOs insistence on avoiding abuses and
having a respect for human rights (US/UK, 2000). The principles were organized around three categories: (1) criteria
companies use to assess the risk to human rights in their
security operations; (2) company relations with state security forces (military and police); and (3) company relations
with private security forces.
Although standards exist under existing codes and voluntary principles (e.g., the UN Global Compact and the US-UK
Voluntary Principles), the question is how to make them applicable globally. There are no GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles the financial accounting standards) for social
audits, and there are no established benchmarks, although some
standards protect vulnerable groups, such as children.
There is also a need for adequate independent monitoring and verification. The Social Accountability 8000 standard (set by the New York-based Social Accountability
International) does not yet specifically deal with human
rights and the mineral sector, although a pilot audit project
proposed for mining is being considered (Social Accountability International, 2001).
In order to assure transparency, monitoring could be carried out by engaging stakeholders, local or international
groups such as NGOs, and multilateral, bilateral, and
national agencies that have competing interests. In order to
be successful, the parties need to work together, i.e., they
must engage in private-public partnerships as mentioned earlier. However, monitoring behavior in the extractive industries sector has not been a major focus of current monitoring
groups, whose involvement has primarily been with the


Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

apparel and footwear industries. There is a need for external

monitoring of the use and selection of external security
forces. Labor groups already monitor health and safety and
this could be extended to human rights as in the collective
agreement with Statoil (Statoil, 2001). The process is evolving gradually as all parties try to establish and meet initial
targets for improvement, coupled with an increased awareness through education and training. A few companies also
now provide statements of compliance with human rights
guidelines within their annual reports (e.g., Shell, 2000).

seen from case studies that poor performance by not engaging positively with stakeholders can be very costly for the
company and lead to abuses of vulnerable people. In order to
ensure the effectiveness of voluntary, non-binding
approaches, geoscientists also need to receive training and
guidance in management practices to implement these codes.
Some companies are offering training to their own security forces and local military units in how to deal with security problems without causing human rights abuses
(Freeport McMoRan, 2001).

Training Requirements

Challenges for Solutions

The typical North American approach to corporate

social responsibility and human rights issues has been to
consult with stakeholders only to the extent of explaining
projects and the associated benefits to the community, such
as the training that will be available (to attain skills necessary for employment) and the provision of schools and other
facilities seen as desirable. However, faltering steps are
being taken by a few mining companies to engage in a more
meaningful way with local communities from the earliest
stages of a project, not only to provide explanations, but also
to establish a dialogue with the community and other stakeholders that will resolve issues of concern, and establish an
internal reporting system for any instances of abuse.
Geoscientists should avoid a paternalistic approach, be
aware that there may be deeply held differences in values,
and bear in mind that whenever mining developments come
into a community there will be a major impact on human
rights at all stages of the mining cycle (Sillitoe, 2000). Risk
assessment and communication are essential parts of the
first step in identifying the issues, and are no less important
than technical, environmental, economic, market, and other
commercial factors. The problems are now more widely recognized by industry, which is responding by advising
approaches to mitigate poor performance (PDAC, 2003).
There are challenges of social and political skills in all
aspects of human rights. While geoscientists and miners
receive training mostly in engineering and science, they may
also study economics and business. However, it is not common to receive training in social sciences, psychology, or
anthropology. Because societys needs and demands are
evolving, geoscientists need to understand and become aware
of new requirements and assess the social impacts before
embarking on a new assignment or project (Warhurst, 1998).
Similar sensitivities are now required at all stages of the mine
life cycle. Geoscientists need education, training, and motivation in codes of conduct on various issues including
respect for human rights, rules about discrimination and sexual harassment, conditions of work and wages, and development opportunities. Education and training in conflict management could lead to more positive engagement, both in the
work place and dealing with other stakeholders. We have

A major issue is to achieve a balance between the

expectations of NGOs regarding corporate power over governments in countries where there are problems, and the
reality of how much influence corporations actually have,
and where to draw the line, i.e., how much responsibility
should companies take for social development issues, and
where does government responsibility begin and end? Corporate intervention with governments on issues such as
investment and taxation is considered acceptable, but many
companies consider intervention to effect change on behalf
of social and political issues (such as human rights) unacceptable. Nevertheless, corporate intervention could indeed
lead to improved human rights conditions.
Some mining companies, aware of the limited budget
and capacity of governments, realize that it is good for their
business to increase the quality of life of people in the communities where they have operations, to reduce conflict and
differences between those who work for the mine and others, and to provide health and education services to the local
communities. Local people can be integrated into the operation as third-party contractors, and can develop the capacity
to be productive if provided with training, basic health care,
and education. These companies understand that improving
local capacity is a mechanism to make the community selfsustainable economically and socially, and their main goal is
to improve the quality of life by improving incomes. They
work with a wide range of NGOs and provide services in
partnership with the local government to make it clear that
they do not want to decapacitize it.
Mining projects are at risk in countries such as Peru
where 54% of the country still lives in poverty. Although
many locals are employed by a major mining operation, the
benefits are limited and unevenly shared because only 1.7%
of the royalty returns to the local community (Padgett and
Chauvin, 2003). Whereas in the past, how government revenues from mining were spent was solely the concern of the
government, civil society now demands that companies
should also be held accountable for the social investment of
mining revenues.
In a sphere where firm and detailed definitions of corporate policy and procedures are almost impossible to

Human Rights and the Minerals Industry S.D. HANDELSMAN ET AL.

achieve, the difficulty lies in framing an acceptable template

with which corporations could modify or crystallize their
policies toward human rights, and against which their performance could be independently monitored. This also
raises a question whether such a template should be
enshrined in legislation or should be voluntarily operated by
the corporations themselves, even if it were agreed to make
them subject to outside monitoring. If legislated, there are
questions about acceptability, enforcement, etc. It is already
clear that most NGOs would be opposed to anything less
than full-scale legislation.

Abuse of human rights in its broadest sense (covering
political, economic, social, cultural, and other facets of
human existence) is the major external, non-technical problem facing the mineral exploration and development industry today. Mineral exploration companies often operate in
remote locations where there may be weak and corrupt institutions, and where the rule of law is not well established.
Interest groups may resist the replacement of authoritarianism, and the countries themselves may lack a tradition of
public participation. Governmental bodies and the judiciary
may be distrusted and there may be widespread corruption,
leading to further abuses. Although the rule of law has
begun in many countries, local conditions vary significantly,
providing genuine issues for activist groups to campaign
against continuing human rights abuses.
Protection of human rights involves not abusing people
working for the corporation, not abusing contractors, not
employing contractors who use slavery or child workers,
and not abusing the rights of the local community.
Examples of abuse have been found to include poor
working conditions, the employment of children (although
usually not as direct employees of the mineral exploration
and development companies), excessive military intervention to quell disturbances and protests, disruption or
destruction of local livelihoods, pollution (including damage to land or water creating shortages of land for subsistence farming, damage to fisheries, and adverse health
effects), and corrupt or inappropriate use of mining revenues by governments.
In order to ensure that mineral exploration and development projects contribute to improving economic, social, and
environmental conditions for the local community and other
stakeholders, there is a pressing need for corporate leadership, guidelines, benchmarks, monitoring, and verification
of human rights performance. The cases discussed above
have shown that it is imperative to understand and respect
these rights, and to determine their boundaries. This is an
essential precondition in order to understand what is
required to avoid conflicts that can result in halting projects.


To accomplish this, the geoscientist needs input from

knowledgeable and responsible individuals and groups that
have concern for those rights that should be respected. It is
essential to engage with other stakeholders to understand the
issues of concern in any specific situation, and to effect positive change.
In order to achieve improved performance by the mining industry, appropriate training of geoscientists is
required that will enable them to understand the difference
between merely explaining the benefits of a project, and
engaging in a meaningful dialogue to address issues of
concern to all stakeholders. Supporting human rights
necessitates taking responsibility for learning how to
engage in measures and behavior beyond the labor and
environmental issues traditionally dealt with in the course
of operations. Some companies have adopted this approach
and are experimenting with public-private partnerships.
The cases described in this paper showed that because a
company may have no control over security forces, it is
essential to put in place adequate positive programs and
safeguards to avoid human rights abuses. Mining company
codes of conduct should provide for both specificity and
accountability in relation to security and human rights.
Requiring staff, employees, and contractors to certify that
they had not been part of any human rights violations and
that they had not witnessed any is one practical measure
that has been adopted.
This paper has examined the roles and responsibilities
of the various stakeholders, and it is evident that through
proactive engagement it is possible for geoscientists to avoid
or reduce the propensity for conflict and human rights
abuses, while developing profitable projects and improving
the social, economic, and political conditions where they
operate. The alternative is that projects will fail, or be subject to delays and additional costs, which affect not just the
investors but also the potential for economic development
and poverty alleviation in the region in question. There is
emerging consensus about what not to do the challenge
is determining what to do.

Acknowledgment is due to all those interviewed and
providing feedback in developing the ideas and providing
examples included in this paper. The perspective of some of
those actively concerned with the issues of human rights in
NGOs, corporations, and multilateral agencies was essential. Particular thanks are expressed to Prof. Richards for his
encouragement and guidance in preparing this paper and to
others who took time to read the manuscript and make helpful suggestions during its preparation. The views expressed
in this paper represent solely those of the authors, and any
errors or omissions remain with the authors.


Explor. Mining Geol., Vol. 12, Nos. 1-4, 2003

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