Via IISD’s SD-list, I just came a cross a very interesting book about a sustainability project by Alcoa. Given the reputation of the mining industry with regards to environmental stewardship, respect for local communities and transparency, the claim to develop a sustainable local development process raises suspicion. From a quick read through the report, it looks like this project does take a new approach with regards to the social integration and transparency:
There is the license issued by the proper authorities, and this is very important. But just as important, or perhaps even more so, is the license to operate that is granted by the local community, because this is where you’ll be living each day. (…) The operation is fundamentally integrated into community and at any time, if the community does not grant us its license to operate, it can halt production, whether on the railroad, at the port or in the mine itself.
It is great to see that a mining operation has sought to build a very inclusive and long-term partnership including the local community, civil society, government and researchers. The following are a few questions that came to mind reading the report. The process seems to still be ongoing and parts of the model are not yet implemented, but it promises to be a great experiment that might be able to serve as a model for other companies to do business differently.