Mining Sector Seeks Win-Win Solutions for Sustainable Development

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Representatives from 55 governments, mining companies, industry associations and the civil society will meet at the annual general meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) in Geneva, Switzerland.

They will explore the opportunities and risks of mining in respect to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the theme for this year’s IGF

hosted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

“Mining must stay on the sustainability journey, leaving behind its dirty, dangerous and destructive past, and keep moving towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi said.

The IGF supports countries to manage their resources wisely to maximize the benefits and has developed a policy framework that promotes good governance in the mining sector. It is hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

The framework is in action by the Grande Côte Operation (GCO) at the largest single dredge mineral sands operation in the world, processing more than seven thousand tonnes an hour along 100 kilometres of Senegal’s coastline where only 2 per cent of mined material represents valuable substances such as zircon, rutile and ilmenite, the rest is sand.

IISD Associate Alec Crawford said, “GCO and the communities agreed that, among the plants to be part of the restoration [of the mined dunes], GCO would include cashew trees so that the local community could generate additional income once the mine had closed.”

“It is the kind of small, low-cost, win-win project that mining companies can undertake to ensure their activities contribute to longer-term sustainable development,” he added.

According to the World Bank, non-renewable mineral resources support the economies of 81 countries around the world, accounting for a quarter of global GDP, half of the world’s population, and nearly 70 per cent of those in extreme poverty.

Africa is home to about 48 per cent of the world’s mineral reserves, including 10 per cent of the world’s oil and 8 per cent of its natural gas.

UNCTAD believes that mining revenues can have positive social and development outcomes once many of the sector’s aggravating activities including pollution, corruption and inequality are solved.

The IGF will also cover gender in mining, climate action, security and human rights, transparency, employment and local purchasing, and water management.

It will be held between October 24 and 28, 2016.

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