chapter  3
18 Pages

Protecting against impoverishment risks in the mining industry

WithJohn R. Owen, Deanna Kemp

This chapter is concerned with the economic and social safeguarding of people displaced by large-scale mining activities. The authors argue that the generalised nature of current global policy norms for development-caused forced displacement and resettlement (DFDR) limits the extent to which the particularities of mining-caused displacement and resettlement (MCDR) can be constructively addressed. The chapter addresses two key issues: first, the existing disconnect between the DFDR literature and mining industry displacement practices. The global mining industry has failed to address displacement as one of the most disruptive and perplexing of development dilemmas. Second, the absence of a sufficient specialised and comprehensive scholarship, which leaves many of the unique features of MCDR unexamined. As an industry characterized by ongoing structural changes, social risks, social conflicts and innumerable practice challenges, it is indefensible that MCDR has been overlooked as an industry priority.

These issues are present against the backdrop of current revisions to global DFDR safeguard policies. The World Bank’s replacement of its own safeguard policy paradigm with “standards” raises concerns about the commitment of the Bank to guarantee the rights and economic integrity of families impacted by displacement. The dilution and recent replacement of the World Bank safeguards has already signalled that social justice concerns are not within the financial purview of lenders. Given that MCDR generates severe risks of impoverishment, and that mining’s unique characteristics are yet to be fully accounted for, any weakening of the global performance norms could have devastating effects on project-affected people and increase – not overcome – the risks involved in MCDR.