This morning I learned that Finland’s Outotec Oyj has signed the United Nations Global Compact initiative and has committed to its principles of human rights, environment, labour fairness and anti-corruption. That one of the world’s leading suppliers of mineral processing technology and equipment should be socially responsible is commendable.
I wondered, however, what this UN initiative is. The 10 principles are spelled out at www.UNGlobalCompact.org. In the matter of human rights, businesses should support internationally proclaimed human rights and ensure that they are not complicit in abuses. In the matter of labour, businesses should recognize the right to collective bargaining, eliminate all forms of forced or compulsory labour, abolish child labour, and end discrimination. In the matter of the environment, business should support a precautionary approach, undertake initiatives to promote environmental responsibility and encourage the development and use of environmentally friendly technologies. In the matter of anti-corruption, businesses should work against all of its forms including extortion and bribery.
Very good, I thought. The United Nations has developed a comprehensive definition of corporate social responsibility. It is easily understood and clear in its intention.
Then I wondered if the Global Compact is of interest to mining companies. I was happy to discover it is. Among the 78 Canadian signatories to the Compact are Agrium Inc., Barrick Gold, Blackfire Exploration, Gabriel Resources, Goldcorp, Inmet Mining, Kinross Gold, Mansour Group (2007), New Gold Inc., Suncor, Teck Resources, and Watts, Griffis and McOuat. These mineral industry companies represent 15% of all the Canadian signatories to the Compact.
Perhaps the remainder of the Canadian mining industry is simply unaware that this initiative is available. They should investigate it.