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Workers come out worst in Responsible Mining Index

12 April, 2018A comprehensive new index, ranking large-scale mining companies in six different performance areas, has found that companies are scoring lowest on working conditions.

The Responsible Mining Index 2018, launched in Geneva, Switzerland, on 11 April, assesses 30 global mining companies on several economic, environmental, social and governance issues, including working conditions.

“While there is no winner in this ranking, the loser is clear – workers,” said IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary, Kemal Özkan, speaking at the launch. “The Index shows what we have known all along - that while there is often the commitment from mining companies to do better, this does not turn into action.”

The Index, which is independent of the industry, ranks the mining companies on six thematic areas: working conditions; economic development; business conduct; lifecycle management; community wellbeing; and environmental responsibility.

IndustriALL, working with its affiliates in the mining sector, provided the lead on the working conditions issue and contributed to some overlapping issue areas of concern such as community well-being and the environmental responsibility. Peter Colley, National Director of Research at IndustriALL’s Australian affiliate CFMEU, who participated in the development of the index, said:

“Rather than simply looking for company statements of principle and intent on an issue, the Index seeks to drill down looking for documentary evidence on what practices have been adopted, and then what performance and monitoring is occurring.”

The study shows that while the majority of the assessed mining companies show responsible policies or practices on the six factors, very few companies show systematic action across a range of key issues.

Little or no action is found even on issues such as monitoring the impacts of mining on children, tracking whether community grievances are being dealt with appropriately, or checking that workers’ wages meet or exceed living wage standards.

Too often, companies have not put into practice some of their own policy commitments on responsible mining, such as on the management of human rights issues.

“It is no surprise to us that mining companies have performed so badly on the key theme related to working conditions. To us, this result is a confirmation of our long-held view that the mining industry, despite their protestations to the contrary, continue to disregard the aspirations of their workers, even though they want us to believe that workers are their most important asset,” said Glen Mpufane, Director for mining at IndustriALL.

The 30 mining companies on the Index operate over 700 mines in more than 40 countries, representing a quarter of the global production of mined commodities.  

In conclusion, Kemal Özkan said:

“We welcome the Responsible Mining Index as an additional instrument in our toolbox to improve the working conditions of mineworkers around the world and we regard it as an important initiative to promote much-needed dialogue in the industry.