Iron ore machinery in front of a mine site


Mining can be critical to achieving the development aspirations of many developing countries and remote regions.

Often, however, the local and national development benefits of mining operations have been limited, and in some cases, the results have even been negative.

Historically, a focus just on mining company rights and the provision of government tax benefits, while giving limited attention to environmental, social, and local economic issues, has limited the sector’s contribution to sustainable development. Working to overcome these issues, governments, companies and communities increasingly recognize the need for a broader understanding of mining’s potential contribution to local and national development. Transforming this awareness into action requires building the capacity, knowledge, and tools required for appropriate reform of government and company policies and processes. 

IISD has been deeply involved in the development of a Model Mining Development Agreement (MMDA) with the International Bar Association’s (IBA) Mining Law Committee. IISD was invited to join the core administrative group on this IBA project when it began in 2009. Since then, we have engaged with the global legal and business community to develop an approach based on a simple question: What would a mining contract with a developing country look like if one started from the perspective of sustainable development? 

IISD has served as the secretariat to the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) since 2015. The IGF supports more than 75 nations committed to leveraging mining for sustainable development to ensure that negative impacts are limited and financial benefits are shared. It is devoted to optimizing the benefits of mining to achieve poverty reduction, inclusive growth, social development, and environmental stewardship.