Sustainable Development: Comments from participants
From Richard Ross, CEO, Inmet Mining Corporation, Toronto
Adhering to the concepts of sustainable development is a necessity. Although the formalization of sustainable development in the MMSD report is a relatively new process, responsible mining companies have been carrying out the elements of sustainable development for many years.
It was important that the concerns expressed by CEOs about the financial impact of implementing the recommendations contained in the MMSD report were stated publicly. Although the business case for sustainable development is clear, all stakeholders must bear in mind that the primary responsibility of business is to maximize returns for shareholders. Over time, if the incremental costs associated with sustainable development escalate, then those costs must be reflected in metal prices or the mining industry itself may find that it is not sustainable.
One of the most significant outcomes of the conference was the open dialogue between industry and the communities where we operate. We will not always agree on issues, but I hope that an environment has been created that will allow us to have open, frank dialogue where trust and mutual respect can continue to be built.
From Don Bubar, president, Avalon Ventures Ltd., Toronto
From a junior company’s perspective, the GMI conference was notable for the almost complete lack of participation from the junior exploration sector, Avalon Ventures Ltd. being the only junior company represented in the list of registrants. The registration fees at US$1,500 were undoubtedly a deterrent for many, but regardless of the reasons for this, the conference dialogue suffered, in my view, from a lack of viewpoints from the exploration community.
Consequently, there was little appreciation gained among representatives of NGOs of how difficult it is just to identify new economic mineral deposits, let alone finance them to production in an environment of ever-increasing regulatory burden. Nor did the conference registrants gain much appreciation of the precipitous decline in exploration investment in recent years and its potential impact on future mineral supply.
Any discussion of sustainable development and mining needs the input of explorationists (who now largely reside with junior companies) to ensure that policy-makers fully appreciate the many challenges associated with discovery and definition of new mineral resources.