PERSPECTIVE: Leaked CSR report flawed

If words such as "suppressed report" and "international violations by Canadian mining companies" were not writ...

If words such as "suppressed report" and "international violations by Canadian mining companies" were not written to be inflammatory, I miss my guess. Such was the headline above a report leaked by MiningWatch to the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star and various news outlets. MiningWatch's release also made hay out of the fact that the report was commissioned by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada. The implication is that the mining industry is trying to hide its bad behaviour from the public.

In fairness, I called the PDAC and learned that the leaked document was a first draft and the final draft was not identical. I was also told that the association wanted a benchmark survey and was disappointed with the quality of the study.

So I looked over the 16 pages of "Corporate Social Responsibility: Movements and Footprints of Canadian Mining and Exploration Firms in the Developing World." It was prepared by the Canadian Centre for the Study of Resource Conflict, that has no dated material more recent than 2006 on its website. I did learn that the CCSRC is associated with Royal Roads University.

I turned past the title page. It seems 75% of the world's mining companies are Canadian, and 33% of all violations are attributed to Canadian miners. Followed by India, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, companies from these five countries are responsible for 63% of all corporate social responsibility violations.

The authors of the report admit to using only English-language sources including government reports, news filings, NGO investigations, academic resources, and information from regulatory bodies. The reports came from human rights NGOs (65%), local NGOs (25%), national governments (22%), local protests (21%), media (21%), international governmental associations (15%), courts (13%) and academics (8%).

According to my calculator that adds up to 190% of the incidents reported.

The leaked report also states that poor community relations accounted for 60% of the incidents, environmental contamination for 40%, and unethical conduct for 30%.

All told that adds up to 130% of the violations.

Where is the raw data? I would like to know the number of projects operated by Canadian, Indian, Australian, American and British companies outside their own borders. Then I could make some sense of the percentages of violations attributed to companies from these countries. I would also like to know where in the world, by country, the violations occurred.

Where is information about trends over the decade (1999-2009) studied? Is the situation getting better or worse overall? How is Canadian performance compared to the mining industry from other countries?

No wonder the PDAC was disappointed with the draft report.

I would have thought the people at MiningWatch would have realized how flawed the document is. In the hurry to make Canadian mining look bad, the organization has also established that it has a low standard for reasoned and factual debate.


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