chapter  4
14 Pages

The Chinese, political CSR, and a nickel mine in Papua New Guinea

WithBenedict Y. Imbun, Western Sydney University, Australia

Scholars of extractive industry investment in developing countries concede, generally, that the adoption of corporate social responsibility (CSR) by business corporations is pivotal to the successful operations of their projects (see Hilson, 2012). From the perspective of extractive companies, one reason for this is that implementation of CSR programs (i.e. community development (CD) projects) in areas of impact on local communities allows the company to gain a “social license to operate”—at the same time that it successfully achieves its core business goals. Scherer and Palazzo (2011, p. 907) postulate that in a globalized political economy corporations seek new ways to maintain their legitimacy beyond “the stable framework of law and moral custom.” They (2011, p. 910) described it as “political CSR” (PCSR)—that is “a movement of the corporation into the political sphere in order to respond to environmental and social challenges such as human rights, global warming and deforestation.” With these reflections in mind, the purpose of the chapter is to investigate the utilization of PCSR in the process of planning and implementing CD programs in Ramu Nickel Mine (RNM), project operated by a Chinese company in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The chapter analyzes how RNM has approached and implemented CD projects, and how these have impacted on local communities around its mining and processing activities. Specifically, it is argued that the implementation of CD projects could be improved if CSR is embraced and supported by well-thought-through strategies and adequate human resources that fully engage stakeholders, particularly local communities who are affected by the implementation of the mining project. This is premised on the fact that reactionary and ad hoc CSR strategies do not effectively take into consideration the CD needs and thus marginalize local communities that are affected by the company’s operations. The chapter is structured as follows. The next section provides a brief review of literature on deliberative democracy in the context of PCSR involving commercial enterprises. The subsequent section contextualizes the research through a brief overview on PNG, and the unique issues and challenges that besieged the country. This is followed by a discussion on the socioeconomic and political factors that have affected RNM during and after construction of the project. Next, the methodological foundations of the study are explained, followed by an analysis of the fieldwork findings of RNM’s CD activities in Madang province of PNG. The conclusion recaps some of the key themes of the chapter. The term CD is used in this chapter to mean tangible developments (improvements) in economic, social, and cultural conditions that host local communities have received as a result of the pressures exerted on these international organizations, particularly mining companies.