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Luiza Breguez Pascoal

Developes with a purpose to answer to an academic task for Curtin English Perth / Western
Australia in 2015

Consider the socio-environmental impacts that mining will have on proposed mining site.
What environmental risk management measures and social community engagement can
ensure the mining project can operate successfully?

In contemporary times, sustainability is a theme that is gaining more relevance, which is


associated with ideas of environmental protection. In this scenario, activities including
mining encounter challenges, by reason of their socio-environmental effects. These activities
are placed in different contexts, such as places with environmental protection and in different
varieties of communities, among developing and developed countries. As a result, a flexible
conduct is required from mining companies, in order to minimize the negative consequences
as well as maximize the positive. Although the negative effects are significant, the
dependence on non-renewable resources by humans makes mining a crucial activity that is
not sustainable. However, Barros et al. (2012) assume that mining companies can reach a
kind of sustainable development, as long it is operated with social and environmental respect.
This essay will describe the negative and positive impacts that mining operations can have on
the surrounding environment and society. It will argue that in order to promote and achieve
successful operation, the mining company should be committed to integrate ongoing
community engagement, as part of its environment risk management drivers.

Mining can result in a variety of negative implications both on the environment as well as on
society. In this context, these operations are often criticized, due to their disadvantages.
Dontala, Reddy and Vadde (2015) discuss the potential danger of mining to the environment
and possible persistence for a significant time, arguing that they include, among others,
disturbance on the local landscape as well as on the vegetation. These land surface and
biological impacts are broadly examined by Marcus (1997) who says that the topographic

Luiza Breguez Pascoal


Developes with a purpose to answer to an academic task for Curtin English Perth / Western
Australia in 2015

modifications include, among others, subsidence and erosion, adding that they are caused by
methods necessary to a mine operates, such as remotion of surface vegetation. The
topographic modifications lead to biological concerns, due to their relationship. Marcus
(1997) demonstrates that disturbances on the topography also affect the vegetation that
integrate soil stability and visual aspects. Besides protecting the soil, the vegetation provides
food and shelter for wildlife, which means apprehensions around the welfare and security of
its population (Marcus, 1997). As the environmental impacts can affect the characteristics of
the land as well as of some resources, they can also have social repercussions. The social
impacts of mining can be both in the health of the community as well as in the availability
and quality of resources. The former can be a result of dynamic in-migration as well as
pollution. Evans and Kemp (2011) argue that mining can increase changes in the population,
such as in-migration, that may spread some diseases in developing countries. This inmigration is a dynamic process that involves a great number of people arriving and leaving in
mining centres, due to economical speculation, reflecting in the risk of spreading diseases. A
broader perspective about further health effects has been adopted by Dontala et al. (2015),
arguing that toxic levels of substances that can be found in mining plant waste may pollute
drinking water, which in turn affects crops, livestock and humans. These substances include
arsenic, cadmium and lead, and are associated with cancers and cardiovascular and
neurological damage. Additionally, the contamination for lead is related to development
delay in children, as well as problems in cardiovascular and reproductive functions (Dontala
et al., 2015). The latter is caused by the competition for resources that mining can present to
its surrounding communities. Evans and Kemp (2011) and Franks (2011) state that this
competition may threaten the availability and quality of water and land, as mining operations
require a significant quantity of these resources. In brief, mining can impact the environment
and the society in various aspects.

Luiza Breguez Pascoal


Developes with a purpose to answer to an academic task for Curtin English Perth / Western
Australia in 2015

A mining project has a diversity of benefits, including progress and opportunities to the
surrounding community as well as the possibility of mitigating its negative impacts, if
managed efficiently. Firstly, mining operations can represent progress and opportunities to its
neighbouring community. This view is supported by Barros et al. (2012) who cite the
example of a bauxite mining in Poos de Caldas, Brazil, which has helped to develop areas
including technological progress, accessibility, education and health, by creating
infrastructure, employment and wealth. Secondly, mining benefits can be contrasted with its
disadvantages, providing a way to mitigate the negative impacts. Evans and Kemp (2011)
explain that the possible financial problems of mining are not as relevant as its positive
influence on economy, once mining contributes to community development. Additionally,
mining operations can also provide water as well as health infrastructure to the community
(Evans & Kemp, 2011). Among the benefits, both studies argue that mining can provide
social infrastructure, which is associated with health, environment and education sectors
(Barros et al., 2012; Evans & Kemp, 2011). However, while Barros et al. (2012) affirm that
these infrastructures are supported by the taxes that the companies pay to the town and are
reverted to benefits, Evans and Kemp (2011) emphasize that these funds should have a more
transparent and effective governance, which may distribute more equally the profits, in order
to address socio-environmental needs. Thus, the variety of benefits of mining can assist in the
surrounding community development, including creation of infrastructure and its
improvements, if mining investments are well managed.

The management of mining socio-environmental impacts converge to the necessity of


previous knowledge about the possible effects as well as to the promotion of a more active
social involvement. This management includes the adoption of sustainable measures to try to

Luiza Breguez Pascoal


Developes with a purpose to answer to an academic task for Curtin English Perth / Western
Australia in 2015

minimize or prevent negative socio-environmental effects, as well as to get the best out of the
positive. In accord with this, Barros et al. (2012) demonstrate that the identification of
possible problems both in the mining installation, as well as in the operation, is a potential
measure to prevent or reduce these effects. It is reinforced by the significant returns that these
methods have had in most of situations in the mining site that was researched (Barros et al.,
2012). Similarly, Evans and Kemp (2011) argue that previous knowledge around possible
socio-environmental risks are important. Nevertheless, Evans and Kemp (2011) add that it is
not always that the impacts can be avoided or predicted, due to the dynamic environment,
which reaffirm the relevance of ongoing projects that possibly address community issues.
Community engagement is also a potential measure to manage the effects of mining. As it
can create a better approach between mining and community, an active social involvement
can enable the company to integrate the socio-environmental area to its principles, in order to
address its concerns and gain popular acceptance to ensure the operations success.
Consistent with this, Evans and Kemp (2011) argue that the maintenance of a good
relationship between company and community can provide a better understanding around
company and environment necessities, as adjacent societies often have a good perception of
mining impacts. In line with this, Armstrong, Baillie and Cumming-Potvin (2014) assert that
among other ways, the active social involvement can be achieved by the promotion of
surveys that may enable the company to know and understand the community concerns,
opinions and suggestions around mining. In brief, previous knowledge and community
engagement are presented by several findings as the most effective measures to manage
mining impacts on the environment and on the society.

An ongoing community engagement is important because it enables a more understanding of


socio-environmental needs and also because of the necessity of a social acceptance. An open

Luiza Breguez Pascoal


Developes with a purpose to answer to an academic task for Curtin English Perth / Western
Australia in 2015

relationship between company and community enable the understanding of socioenvironmental issues. According to Evans and Kemp (2011), communitys effective
engagement may assist in the management of mining impacts. They also affirm that
community development is often presented as an ultimate of stakeholders engagement
policies and that the interest of mining companies to develop this social interaction has
increased. It is confirmed by Barros et al. (2012) who cite the augmentation of social
perception around mining impacts as a drive to improve the relationship between mining and
community. In line with this, companies have been involved in developing sectors to improve
the dialogue with community and understanding its viewpoints and concerns better, in order
to minimize possible adversity in their mine surroundings (Evans & Kemp, 2011). This view
is reinforced by Barros et al. (2012) who demonstrate that in the proposed mining site of their
studies, the popular concerns around the mining visual degradation is addressed by the
company that has, among others, ongoing projects to restore the landscape. The social
acceptance is greatly important to a mining site. Consistent with this, many studies (Evans &
Kemp, 2011; Govindan, 2014; Sagebien & Lindsay, 2011) discuss the relevance of the
maintenance of a Social License to Operate (SLO), in order to ensure the companys future
and good image. In accordance, Prno (2013) asserts that although mining possess significant
advantages, its disadvantages often receive more reputation and it makes the SLO, which
provides societal consent to lead mining operations, a critical requirement to avoid eventual
conflicts between community and mining. Consequently, the company that does not have the
societal assent, can often be confronted with social actions, such as protests and blockades
that may result in problems with the government (Prno, 2013). Therefore, there is a great
necessity of an open relationship between company and community that prioritize mutual
cooperation and respect. Thus, an ongoing community engagement is significantly important
to a mine company.

Luiza Breguez Pascoal


Developes with a purpose to answer to an academic task for Curtin English Perth / Western
Australia in 2015

The integration of ongoing community engagement in mining companies policies is critical


to the achievement of successful operation. It is examined by Barros et al. (2012), describing
that the societal participation can assist in a better understanding of socio-environmental
impacts. In this context, Marcus (1997) and Dontala et al. (2015) stress that mining has
significant disadvantages. On the other hand, Evans and Kemp (2011) demonstrate that,
considering areas individually, each negative impact has its respective positive impact that
can justify mining operations. As these impacts can affect neighbouring communities and
result in social problems, mining companies are often committed in promoting an active
social involvement and in implementing measures to minimize the disadvantages and
enhance the advantages, aiming the best ratio between them (Evans & Kemp, 2011). Among
the methods to achieve this balance, some authors have mainly been interested in questions
that involve previous knowledge and identification of possible impacts, in order to plan and
implement ongoing projects to manage this impacts (Evans & Kemp, 2011; Barros et al.,
2012). Others have highlighted the relevance of measures that include an active social
involvement (Evans & Kemp, 2011; Sagebien & Lindsay, 2011; Govindan, 2014). Generally,
they lean towards the necessity of social issues being addressed by mining companies, as part
of their environmental risk management measures. These are similar to Malhotras (2001)
findings that stress the importance of community assistance programs to ensure mutual
cooperation and respect that may lead to a peaceful place to live and work. The special
attention given to social issues is justified by many authors (Evans & Kemp, 2011; Govindan,
2014; Sagebien & Lindsay, 2011) as a way to maintain the SLO, without which is potentially
difficult to operate. A broader analysis of the Barros et al. (2012) findings can demonstrate
that when the company is committed to minimize community concerns around its operations,
either by responding to the problems immediately or implementing ongoing projects, the

Luiza Breguez Pascoal


Developes with a purpose to answer to an academic task for Curtin English Perth / Western
Australia in 2015

mining advantages become more relevant than the disadvantages in societal perception,
which assist in the maintenance of the SLO. In brief, in order to promote and achieve success,
mining companies should integrate community engagement in their policies.

To conclude, although the arguments around mining impacts usually do not contemplate their
advantages, there are various benefits that a mining site can provide to its surrounding
communities. Additionally, the importance of the maintenance of the SLO has increased the
mine companies efforts to address socio-environmental issues, demonstrating that mining
and community can develop a good relationship. Among these efforts, the more relevant are
the implementation of measures that consider a previous identification of possible problems
to either mitigate or prevent them as well as the measures that defend the significance of a
constant active social involvement. In this context, it seems that the best ratio between mining
negative and positive effects is reached by the promotion of an active social involvement that
may provide a better perception about socio-environmental needs. Therefore, the integration
of ongoing community engagement in mining companies policies should be part of their
environment risk management measures, in order to achieve and maintain a successful
operation.
Word count: 2065

Luiza Breguez Pascoal


Developes with a purpose to answer to an academic task for Curtin English Perth / Western
Australia in 2015

Reference
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Luiza Breguez Pascoal


Developes with a purpose to answer to an academic task for Curtin English Perth / Western
Australia in 2015

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