unctad.org | Miners seek win-win solutions for sustainable development
Miners seek win-win solutions for sustainable development
25 October 2016
IGF on Mining
Extracting heavy minerals such as zircon, rutile and ilmenite from Senegal's coastal dunes is heavy work - these valuable substances represent only 2% of mined material while the rest is sand.

The company doing the work is Grande Côte Operation (GCO), the largest single dredge mineral sands operation in the world, processing over 7,000 tonnes an hour along 100 kilometers of Senegal's coastline.

But GCO makes sure the sand is returned to the dunes to preserve their environmental integrity, and works with local people to ensure they can farm the affected land after it has given up its minerals.

"Mining must stay on the sustainability journey, leaving behind its dirty, dangerous and destructive past, and keep moving towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi said ahead of the annual general meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF).

"Revenues from mining can help move us towards positive social and development outcomes, but some mining activities aggravate many problems that we want to solve, such as pollution, corruption, and inequality," he said.

IGF on Mining

The theme of this year's IGF, which is hosted by UNCTAD in Geneva, 24-28 October, is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Mining offers both opportunity and risk in that respect.

Non-renewable mineral resources play a dominant role in the economies of 81 countries around the world, accounting for a quarter of global GDP, half of the world's population, and nearly 70% of those in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank.

Africa alone is home to about 48% of the world's mineral reserves, including 10% of the world's oil, and 8% of the world's natural gas.

The IGF, which is hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), supports countries to manage their resources wisely and to maximise the benefits. It has developed a Mining Policy Framework, which brings together best practices and promotes good governance in the sector.

Alec Crawford is an IISD Associate whose work focuses on the Mining Policy Framework. He recently visited Senegal to see the framework in action at Grande Côte Operation.

"GCO and the communities agreed that, among the plants to be part of the restoration [of the mined dunes], GCO would include cashew trees so that the local community could generate additional income once the mine had closed," Mr. Crawford said.

"It is the kind of small, low-cost, win-win project that mining companies can undertake to ensure their activities contribute to longer-term sustainable development," Mr. Crawford added.

Participants at this year's IGF include representatives from 55 governments, plus mining companies, industry associations and civil society. Discussions at the meeting will also cover gender in mining, climate action, security and human rights, transparency, employment and local purchasing, and water management.


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