Mining Industry Urged to Prioritize ESG Issues for Sustainable Development


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Chief Mining Correspondent

Zimbabwe’s mining industry is being called upon to prioritize Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues to ensure that local communities benefit from the extraction of resources in their regions.

Resource governance groups have emphasized the importance of sustainable mining practices in response to growing demands for change from communities and increasing pressure from investors and financial institutions to promote inclusivity, social responsibility, and sustainability.

The implementation of compliance measures and regulations is seen as crucial to drive the necessary transformation, with governments urged to play a leading role in enforcing standards and benchmarks.

President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa recently emphasized the need for the mining industry in Zimbabwe to give priority to ESG issues to ensure that local communities fully benefit from the minerals extracted in their areas.

Tatenda Theophilus Tazwa Chimbadzwa, Chairman of the Zimbabwe Youth Poverty Alleviation Platform (ZYPAP), highlighted the importance of mining companies investing in social infrastructure, educational facilities, medical infrastructure, road networks, and other community development initiatives.

Chimbadzwa expressed concern that a survey conducted by his organization revealed a lack of ESG strategies or initiatives among mining companies operating in Zimbabwe.

“We surveyed to assess the commitment of mining companies in Zimbabwe to adhere to the principles of Environment, Social, and Governance, and we discovered that the majority are falling short in that regard.

“It is expected that mining companies allocate a portion of their proceeds towards community development, including social infrastructure, educational facilities, medical infrastructure, energy systems, and road networks. Unfortunately, many companies have neglected these responsibilities, leaving communities in a state of poverty,” he said.

Brighton Mupfapairi, from the Zimbabwe Federation of Entrepreneurs Association (ZFEA), emphasized that mining companies have a social corporate responsibility (CSR) to support local businesses by fostering local enterprise development and procuring equipment and consumables from within the community.

“Mining companies should create business opportunities for local firms through mandatory local content requirements and by establishing forward and backward linkages,” Mupfapairi explained.

“They should enforce procurement and supplier development by dividing large contracts to accommodate smaller businesses, including those operated by women, youth, and people with disabilities.”

Justice Chinhema, General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Mineral Workers Union (ZDAMWU) highlighted the need for a stronger connection between ESG issues and government policies to ensure that mining companies adhere to best practices.

Chinhema stressed the importance of profit-sharing and share ownership schemes to empower workers in mining communities.

“As ZDAMWU, we have clearly stated our demands, which include profit-sharing and share ownership schemes to empower workers.

“Workers constitute the majority, and if they are empowered through profit-sharing, we will witness real development in mining communities and our country as a whole. What is lacking is a policy framework that guides the operations of mining companies.

“While we have opened our mining sector to investors, we have not adequately defined the terms. Basic requirements and penalties for failure to meet them should be established,” Chinhema said.

To ensure adherence to ESG issues, stakeholders underscored the importance of government intervention.

Chinhema said the government should enact basic policies that compel mining companies to prioritize workers’ empowerment through profit-sharing and share ownership schemes.

Chimbadzwa, from the Zimbabwe Youth Poverty Alleviation Platform, called for the enactment of legislation that obligates mining companies to take care of the well-being of local communities and for the government to actively monitor and evaluate mining operations’ environmental impact.

“To foster sustainable mining, the government should enact laws governing environmental and social governance, ensuring that communities benefit from the resources in their areas of residence.

“There should be a strong commitment from the government to monitor and evaluate the operations and environmental impact of mining companies. For instance, in Chiadzwa Diamond Mining, evidence of environmental challenges, such as water, air, and land contamination, has emerged.

“Harmful chemicals are being disposed of in local rivers, which are vital sources of water for communities. This poses a significant risk to the community’s livelihoods and livestock.

“Additionally, there have been numerous cases of communities in conflict with mining companies due to the lack of community consent in mining ventures,” Chimbadzwa stated.

Chimbadzwa further emphasized the need for laws that address issues such as land degradation from mining operations, the protection of mine employees’ interests after company closures or ownership transfers, gender imbalances in employment, and skills development initiatives for sustainable community engagement outside of mining operations.

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