In order to be successful and sustainable in Africa, Australian mining companies have to take into account the economic imbalance between modern mine development and the local community the mine is operating in.
Bill Turner, the Chairman of the Australia-Africa Mining Industry group (AAMIG) added that Australia could also not be successful in such endeavours if it did not adequately prepare to deal with a wide range of Africa specific issues.
He was addressing the delegates at the third and final day of the three day 2013 Paydirt Africa Down Under conference, taking place in Perth, Australia.
“These include political and social risk, institutions that often lack capacity, health issues, bribery and corruption and the occasional unpredictable behaviour of security forces,” Turner said.
“We cannot help people permanently with never ending handouts or by doing for them, things that they could, and should and want to do, for themselves. Building self-esteem is a great enabler which in turn results in significant economic benefit to the business enterprise. In short, enlightened approaches to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) create value and protect value.”
Turner said bilateral and multilateral AUD programmes alone would not lift impoverished African communities out of poverty. “Business enterprise, capacity building and opening the door to opportunity, are absolutely essential ingredients. Every person in and around a modern mine development in Africa should have the opportunity to reach his or her own potential. We need to continue to move the social development approach in Africa away from a “hand out” and more towards a “helping hand up” as well as away from a “sense of dependency” and more towards a strong “sense of ownership, empowerment and self-reliance”.
Turner said business could not solve and pay for all of the complex challenges faced by African governments and local communities. “As an industry, we need to identify and focus on opportunities to create share value – where social development and CSR have meaningful benefits for society but are also valuable to business.
“Mining by Australians in Africa is all about the basic business case – contribute meaningfully to the local communities in which we operate, build and maintain a social licence to operate, reduce investment and operating risk and make our shared business activities and growth into the future, sustainable.”
Paydirt 2013 Africa Down Under Conference is Australia’s largest mining conference, and kicked off on Wednesday, in Perth, Australia. A showcase for the $40 billion investment to date by Australian mining companies, explorers and suppliers, in co-developing Africa’s vast mineral wealth and its mining industry – and largest gathering in the world of Federal and African resources ministers and business heads outside of the African continent – the three day conference runs over two hotel venues in the Perth CBD.