IGF Case Study: Environmental and Social Impact Assessments in Mining Legal Frameworks

Case studies from California, United States; Kazakhstan; and Queensland, Australia

This publication contrasts legal frameworks for environmental and social impact assessments at varying stages of development in three mineral-rich jurisdictions.

By Jenifer Hill, Clémence Naré , Dave Duckett on September 6, 2023

This report first presents the main components of a legal framework for environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs) in mining and then examines the following three jurisdictions.

California, United States, has a well-developed ESIA framework and is adapting to the latest challenges, which include the concerns of Indigenous communities and issues of climate change in a litigious jurisdiction.

Kazakhstan is in the process of developing its ESIA framework to meet the country’s more recent sustainability goals and commitments. It is in the process of putting the changes into practice.

Queensland, Australia, provides an example of a comprehensive ESIA legal framework but is still challenged with managing the underlying risks of corruption.

These three case studies were chosen to demonstrate that ESIA is a critical tool in the legal framework for meeting sustainability goals. However, each jurisdiction is unique and must strive for continual improvement to keep the ESIA legal framework effective.

The case studies show

  • the importance of leadership and ongoing evaluation in developing and improving ESIA legal frameworks;
  • the benefit of looking for assistance and feedback from outside the jurisdiction; and
  • that there is always room for improvement, irrespective of the economic development stage and political situation.