Corporate Social Responsibility: The reality

31 October 2013 | ResolutionPossible

Welcome to the final blog looking at Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), part of our Minerals series.  Earlier blogs acknowledged the rise of CSR across the mining industry and addressed what motivates companies to engage in such programmes. This blog demonstrates how CSR works in reality by presenting the case of Banro Corporation, a Canadian mining company which operates at four locations across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Banro is one of many mining corporations to engage in CSR programmes, including:

Mining, Banro Corporation, DRC, Congo, gold, Twangiza, South Kivu

Banro is a Canadian gold company with production from its first gold project, Twangiza, which is located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. | Photo: Banro Corporation

Banro Corporation

Banro corporation is a Canadian gold exploration and mining company focused on the development of four wholly owned gold projects in South Kivu and Maniema provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Operations at Twangiza, one of the company’s four mines and the first commercial gold mine built in the DRC in over 50 years, is anticipated to produce over 120,000 ounces of gold per annum. In addition to the four project sites which hold mining licenses covering 2,616 km2 , Banro has 14 exploration permits covering a further 2,638 km2 in the region. Banro has emerged as one of the largest private sector employers in eastern DRC, having created jobs directly and through contractors for over 4,000 Congolese citizens.

Banro’s CSR approach

Banro states it has a commitment  to promoting local development alongside its operations, and tries to demonstrate the far-reaching and positive impact that responsible commercial mining can have on communities and the wider economy.

According to its literature, Banro:

  • Invested US$492 million in South Kivu and Maniema provinces, creating jobs and business opportunities for tens of thousands of people, generating taxes, adding new public infrastructure and facilities
  • Employs over 1,000 Congolese people in technical, professional, management or supervisory roles that build ‘real capacity’, with another 3,000 employed through contractor generating another 20,000 jobs indirectly, ultimately supporting more than 200,000 Congolese people
  • Has contributed to social infrastructure through the Banro Foundation by upgrading and constructing new roads, housing, health care facilities, potable water systems and more, with future plans to invest in hydroelectricity
  • Has constructed 10 new schools, rehabilitated two existing schools and equipped them with desks and furniture
  • Supports initiatives to increase school enrolment of girls, retain teachers and educate former child artisanal miners
  • Provides vocational training and skills development to its employees, strengthens university facilities in relevant disciplines and funds scholarships for high potential students
The Banro Foundation celebrated the official opening of a new basketball court in the Bagira community in 2012, and donated new basketball uniforms | Photo: Banro

Basketball court in Bagira community, constructed by the Banro Foundation in 2012 | Photo: Banro

Rehabilitating the Butuza-Burhinyi Road, part of Banro's CSR programme  Photo: Banro

Rehabilitating the Butuza-Burhinyi Road, part of Banro’s CSR programme | Photo: Banro

Shortcomings of Banro’s CSR

  • 83% of employees are Congolese citizens, which means almost 20% are migrants.
  • Out of a workforce of over 1,000, only 53 are women.
  • Many specialist skills are imported.
  • Banro has built many roads and bridges built, which have certainly linked communities that were previously disconnected and separated by a five day bicycle ride. However, these constructions are fundamental to the very functioning of the mine (for example, transportation of minerals), rather than a proactive attempt at providing for the community.
  • Other CSR programmes do not reach the most vulnerable members of the population (women and children)

Additionally, the CSR programmes of a corporation operating large-scale mines do not alleviate problems associated with Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM).

In Katanga Province, (DRC), approximately 200,000 men, women and children make a living through informal and illegal activity in Artisanal and Small-scale Mines. The workforce in ASMs account for almost 80% of those employed in the mining sector in DRC, and therefore represent not only the majority of the mining sector, but also demonstrates the extent to which a focus on large-scale mines can be unhelpful. In such unregulated conditions, there are few stakeholders in ASMs that are in a strategic position to implement CSR policies.

ResPoss asks:

Is it enough to rely on CSR to mitigate or alleviate the negative impacts of mining?

Since ASMs present more extensive risks than large, corporate-run mines, do CSR strategies fall too short, by failing to address the root causes of the social and environmental problems

Should corporates be expected to address the problems associated with ASMs? Where does responsibility lie, given that ASMs only exist to fuel consumer demand?

If you are interested in this topic you can explore our page focused on initiatives aiming to reduce the negative impact of mining in conflict affected regions and join the conversation to express your views.

 

Contributing writer/research: Megan Setchell

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