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The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has launched a report which found that life in Mining Dependent Countries (MDCs) has improved significantly in the last 23 years.

The report analyses 41 social metrics grouped under 12 relevant United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and across three quarters of these metrics, there has been significant progress made on socio-economic development. The metrics include neo-natal mortality, adult literacy, and access to electricity, and the findings show the greatest progress has been made across health and well-being, access to quality education, clean water, sanitation and affordable clean energy. The countries with the biggest relative improvements include Bolivia, Botswana, Indonesia, Ghana, and Peru.

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The research indicates that most mining-dependent countries, which are among some of the poorest in the world, continue to close the socio-economic performance gap with non-resource dependent countries. However, governance matters. The research strongly suggests that the higher the quality of governance, the stronger the socio-economic progress observed in these countries. A stable, enabling environment has the strongest positive relationship with good socio-economic outcomes.

The analysis indicates that countries that are more peaceful, have lower levels of corruption, and a vocal and active civil society with sufficient civic space are better able to translate natural resources into social progress. Having mining regulations and frameworks is an insufficient condition for good socio-economic outcomes and the analysis demonstrates that effective implementation is critical.

ICMM’s Chief Executive Officer, Rohitesh Dhawan said:

“This report builds on the extensive research we conducted in 2018, challenging the notion that an abundance of natural resources in host countries damages economic and social progress. However, without strong resource governance and, most critically, effective implementation of mining regulations and frameworks, host countries are unlikely to feel the benefits of mining operations. The mining industry has a central role to play in this as a catalyst for change, supporting effective implementation of the frameworks needed to help deliver the UN SDGs.”

Orano’s Chief Executive Officer, Philippe Knoche said:

“Good governance contributes to a better sharing of economic benefits and a better acceptability of our activities. Uranium mining with its long term operations plays a vital role in enabling clean energy. When  produced  responsibly, it contributes to the wealth of regions and countries.  This is how Orano Mining sees its role as a responsible miner”.

Newcrest’s Chief People and Sustainability Officer, Lisa Ali said:

“Improving our performance as an industry – and working with governments, communities, civil society to do so – will help us to better contribute to sustainable growth and aid social progress.”

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)’s Chair, Rt Hon. Helen Clark said:

“The findings of the report are encouraging, and align with the EITI’s Principles, which state that the prudent use of natural resource wealth should be an important engine for sustainable economic growth. High standards of governance, transparency and accountability are a necessary condition, without which the developmental benefits of the resource sector will continue to be elusive. We therefore encourage governments and companies to consider how they can improve efforts towards transparency, including through implementation of the EITI Standard.”

The Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI)’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Suneeta Kaimal said:

“In the wake of the pandemic, mineral-rich developing countries face rising poverty, increased corruption risks and growing debt. Good governance by countries and companies—disclosing critical information, ensuring open public dialogue, and promoting evidence-based decision making—is crucial to enabling sustainable, equitable recovery for citizens and a greener planet. ICMM can leverage its collective power to help producer countries harness growing demand for minerals associated with the energy transition, develop new models for benefit-sharing, reinforce lessons learned about good governance, and ultimately transform potential into prosperity.”

The analysis from this report can be used as a baseline of the status of socio-economic progress in Mining Dependent Countries (MDCs) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. As countries look to rebuild to an even stronger position, the importance of understanding the linkage between effective resource governance and social progress will become increasingly important.

The full report, ‘Social Progress in Mining-Dependent Countries: Analysing the role of Resource Governance in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’ is available here. It builds on the research undertaken in ICMM’s 2018 study, Social Progress in Mining-dependent Countries which can be viewed here.