MAC: Mines and Communities


Published by MAC on 2002-03-04


MMSD has ignored or glossed over many critical issues:

Agenda for change?

According to the MMSD' draft report, its "agenda for change" derives from three tasks: "surfacing" (sic) ideas and information; offering the opportunity to test those ideas with diverse, knowledgeable audiences; and providing a "snapshot" of "where this evolution of ideas stands (sic) and what conclusions can be drawn ".

MMSD claims to have "reviewed existing knowledge" but this is manifestly untrue, since a large number of community-based studies are omitted, along with evidence submitted to tribunals, public hearings, and courts over several years; not to mention voluminous profiles of individual mining companies and critiques of materials use, mining technology et al.

It also says it has "assimilated" suggestions submitted to the project by "many organisations and individuals". On the contrary, far from surfacing, many of these proposals have been left to swim (or sink) in a sea of words.

Hardly surprisingly, the research conducted by staff of the IIED along with accounts of four regional processes, are fairly accessible, but the twelve country baseline studies and the more than 100 expert studies boasted by the project leaders are not.

While the diverse structure for "testing" ideas submitted to MMSD is unexceptional and in theory reasonably open, in practice it has proved for many people confusing to navigate or inaccessible (with its over-reliance on electronic communication, the failure to translate a mass of documentation into Spanish or Chinese and hastiness in preparing some of its input procedures).

Two fundamental flaws in the testing process are barely acknowledged in the MMSD draft report. The first is the carefully considered boycotting of the entire process by many of mining's key critics - above all, community representatives and well-established NGOs. This has undermined the group's claim to global representivity, and in particular the veracity of its regional scooping processes.

Second, the draft report itself was presented on March 4th 2002, with a deadline for all comments by April 17th - thus providing barely six weeks to read a discourse of more than 500 pages and comment on its content. The IIED team will then assimilate and consolidate such comments in just two weeks. - an impossible task if criticisms are to be taken at all seriously. Clearly they will not be.


They called throughout the land for comments on their Endeavors
Miraculously in fourteen days MMSD created its final report.
Thirty days later it quit the earth.
And there was much rejoicing in the mining houses
Because they had got what they wanted all along.

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