Press release

North America's Mining Industry Looking to the Future

September 16, 2002

New reports examines mining industry's commitment to sustainability

WINNIPEG — A report released today from the Mining Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) North America shows that the mining industry has recognized that continuation of its "social licence" to operate depends on bringing its practices in line with sustainable development.

Towards Change is available online. It is the result of a one year review of mining practices in Canada and the United States. The project was led by the Mining Team of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD, Winnipeg) in collaboration with the Mining Life-Cycle Center, University of Nevada, Reno. The project engaged many interests including junior and senior mining companies, mining service companies, government, labour ,communities, aboriginal people, NGOs, and universities.

"By initiating this project, the mining industry has taken an unprecedented step and shown real leadership. Continuing attitudes and practices of the 19th century, it went on its merry way through most of the 20th century thumbing its nose at the massive rise in concern about how people and the environment have been treated. I like to think that this marks a real turning point. No other industry has taken an initiative like MMSD. Now at the beginning of the 21st century, there is a remarkable opportunity for the industry, government, and others to demonstrate in concrete terms that the future will be different from the past," says David Runnalls, President of the International Institute for Sustainable Development

Some of the key recommendations in the final report include: increasing effort to address the human and environmental legacy of past mining practices; enhancing capacity to reward good and discourage poor performance by the mining industry and others; and clarifying how the distribution of costs, benefits and risks between companies, communities, and governments can be made more fair in the future

"The world has changed and there is no turning back. The question is simply one of whether or not the industry chooses to be proactive in participating in that change, or slips back to a 19th century reactive mode," says Tony Hodge, IISD Mining Leader.

The results of the report will be presented at the Energy and Mines Ministers Conference being held in Winnipeg Sept. 15 -18. Runnalls and Hodge will give a presentation at the open session on Tuesday Sept. 17th at 10:30 at the Fairmont Hotel.

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.