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Mining & Sustainability: “Mining companies should invest in communities” – Graça Machel

Graça Machel
Graça Machel, President of the Foundation for Community Development

Foundation for Community Development president Graca Machel has called on mining companies to invest in communities in the countries in which they operate. She suggested that such investment should be implemented in several ways, including through the establishment of a special fund that would ensure asustainable future for communities as reported by Miningweekly.

“I’m not just talking about corporate social responsibility. This fund will help to meet the needs of people today, but also to make life sustainable for future generations,” Machel told a packed auditorium at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town.

An accomplished philanthropist and development practitioner in her own right, and Nelson Mandela’s wife during the final years of his life, she urged governments, businesses, communities and mineworkers to work together to ensure sustainable growth took place in the communities surrounding miningoperations.

The various parties had to work together in a “pact” to deal with land issues, ensure skills development and improve the lives of people.

“I don’t think there has been genuine trust among these four partners. They need to discuss, agree and achieve a pact on how they are going to work together to sustain communities even beyond the life of the mine.”

Machel suggested that a leadership forum should include representation from different leaders in the community, from traditional and religious leaders to women, artisans and emerging farmers, together with government, industry and labour.

She also challenged mining companies to pool resources and work together to develop a range of skills in the countries in which they operate.

“Think differently. Act differently. Join efforts with other companies in a country. Three or four multinationals can contribute to build a pool of expertise in a country.”

Machel said companies had made a start in her native Mozambique by establishing a leadership group.

All in all, the mindset of industry needed to change.

“All of us have to think of a world in which we [don’t] allow our fellow citizens to starve and die…and mining companies need to see how can we contribute to this. We’re not talking about profit and growth only. We’re talking about sustained growth.”

Machel also called for more gender equity in the mining industry.  She particularly called for more women to invest in the sector.

“Women should not only be employees or leaders in a company. I want to see women investors in mining. I want to see women who own assets in companies.”
She challenged investors to seek out women when choosing local partners.

“We want women to have a slice of the cake in the mining industry, as owners, as investors.”

Machel said men were wasting knowledge, expertise and brainpower by not appointing women to top positions.

She also suggested that mining companies needed to be more sensitive to the concerns and needs of communities who had been relocated to make way for a mine.

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