Measurement, mining and Canada’s foreign finances

A couple of new items out on mining. One is a new article published in Minerals Engineering that compares different ways of measuring “sustainability“.

Here is the ABSTRACT: Recent years have seen a proliferation of frameworks for assessing and reporting mining sustainability. While these frameworks vary substantially in scope and approach, they all seem to share the purported goal of better informing decision-makers about the future implications of mining to the environment and society. Whether they do so, however, remains an open question. The purpose of this paper is to describe, compare and critically analyse five sustainability assessment and reporting frameworks used by, or proposed for, the mining industry. Based on literature reviews, the paper highlights the underlying assumptions of those frameworks and presents a diagram that helps to clarify aspects such as temporal orientation, geographical scope and quantity of indicators. Three out of the five frameworks follow a siloed approach to assessing mining sustainability, overlooking trade-offs and synergies among variables and sustainability dimensions. None of the frameworks seems to fully shed light on the problem of mineral scarcity and the effective legacy of mineral operations. The paper concludes by emphasizing the need to carefully consider the information generated by the analysed frameworks and suggest more fruitful ways to foster sustainability reports.


A second item is more Canada specific. I’ve identified previously the increasing literature that identifies Canada’s unique place in the global mining context. This latest piece is on whether Canada is out of step with the push for more transparency around the extractive resource sector more broadly.

“As the G8 works to increase financial oversight and accountability for the extractive sector, is Canada standing off in the corner?

When the G8 leaders get together in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland on June 17-18, they’ll be following summit host and British Prime Minister David Cameron’s, agenda: tax, trade and transparency. Cameron has also made clear his intentions to renew the international community’s focus on financial openness in the extractive sector.

Cameron is riffing off a trend that is increasingly common in the extractive sector. In matters of corruption, sunlight is the best disinfectant: making public payment data from oil, gas and mineral companies will push out corruption, free industry from having to line the pockets of greedy middlemen, and ensure that local communities know where their royalties are going. Though the consensus appears to be calcifying around Cameron’s push, Canada appears to be more tepid in its support…” Read more here.

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