MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Background Information

Published by MAC on 2003-04-28

Background Information

Mining in Developing Countries: Who Benefits?

A 2001 Oxfam America report, "Extractive Sectors and the Poor," compared social indicators in developing countries. Economies that are largely dependent on mining have:

· Lower living standards and higher poverty rates
· Higher rates of child mortality and income inequality
· Higher vulnerability to economic shocks
· More government corruption, authoritarianism, military spending
and civil war.

(See the full report at: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/publications/art2635.html)

Societal Choices

"What is the most responsible and least polluting and wasteful way for society to provide itself with the materials it needs? While new extraction is one way to secure these materials, recycling, re-use, less use, materials replacement, and alternative product design are other methods. Yet today, mining companies are hooked on extraction and most governments provide subsidies for extraction that promote waste, lead to polluted lands and polluted rivers, and favor extraction over conservation and protection of community interests and values..How does society weigh the benefits of jewelry.against the potential environmental, community and landscape impacts of new large-scale gold mines? How many new open-pit mines can be justified when there are such vast oversupplies of gold stocks held by governments? How much more gold does society need?"

--Stephen D'Esposito, President, Mineral Policy Center
(www.mineralpolicy.org)

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