Chinese mining companies ‘going global’ should address environmental and social risks by starting to communicate with stakeholders

LV Weiju,WWF

[English summary translation from original Chinese article] The cycle of some mining projects usually lasts for years or even decades. A stable operating environment and sound relations among stakeholders are crucial to the long-term operation of mining companies. However, [Chinese mining] companies often ignore voices from the grassroots in their overseas operations and lack the experience of communicating with local communities, labour unions, and NGOs. In a discussion with an overseas project manager of a state-owned enterprise, I was told that it was difficult for Chinese companies to integrate into local communities. This shows that many companies “going global” do not know how to identify stakeholders and lack tools for systematic risk management.

The China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters (CCCMC) has issued Guidelines for Social Responsibility in Outbound Mining Investments, to help companies identify, mitigate and even avoid non-traditional risks… Based on the features of the mining industry, the Guidelines cover eight issues: organization governance, fair operating practices, value chain management, human rights, labour issues, occupational health and safety, environment, and community involvement and engagement, in which they systematically elaborate the risks and challenges faced by companies in their “going-global” process and provide guiding principles to address these challenges. It is expected that the Guidelines will guide Chinese mining companies to follow a path to sustainable development.

While the Guidelines provide important guidance to Chinese companies, it will be arduous to develop a user-friendly operation manual that can help companies to turn the general principles into practice… The CCCMC and the WWF are working on the development of an operations manual and indicator system, which will specifically explain all the articles in the Guidelines and outline implementation steps, approaches, and procedures. In this regard, companies will be able to evaluate their performance in line with the internationally-recognized CSR standards…The manual will support Chinese mining companies to prioritize polices, plans, projects, and objectives to enhance performance in key sectors and provide clear action plans and reliable implementing tools for overseas sustainable development.