7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Responsible mining - partnership to help achieve the SDGs

Responsible mining - partnership to help achieve the SDGs

Thursday, June 8, 2017 - 15:15 to 16:30

Key points

  • Few people realise the benefits mining companies bring to the countries where they operate.
  • Mining companies such as Rio Tinto have gone from ‘licence to operate’ to ‘partnership to operate’.
  • There is a need to think more holistically about partnerships.
  • Partnership does not mean partners have to agree on everything all the time.
  • Partnerships should be multilateral not bilateral.


The mining industry often gets a bad and unfair press. But the positive dimension should not be forgotten, as mining provides employment for local communities and often also provides basic needs such as free electricity in areas where governments do not.

Mining companies are increasingly keen to become involved in partnerships to promote development in the countries where they operate. Although there is no secret recipe as to how the mining industry can contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), all agree that partnerships are essential because no-one can work in isolation especially when all stakeholders aim to achieve the SDGs.

Partnerships, however, cannot be just bilateral; they must involve not only the private sector and NGOs but also the local community. Partners are not equal, as they do not have the same resources. Partnerships are important to protect the environment, ensure transparency and fight corruption, but also for developing skills, jobs and enterprise creation in all countries where there is a mining industry.

The European Commission points out that partnerships work when all stakeholders want them to. A top-down arrangement does not work, and it must be recognised that not everyone around the table has the means or the ability to bring solutions. This is why partnerships must be flexible, and allow for different opinions as partners have different mandates. This is not a problem, as long as the dialogue never breaks down.

The European Commission is keen to boost partnerships because it realises that SDG targets will be impossible to reach with Official Development Assistance (ODA) alone. The Commission points out that the approach has to be changed to include the private sector that generates 90 % of all jobs in developing countries.

Another top priority for the European Commission is to ensure that natural resources, which generate the biggest revenues for developing countries, are properly exploited.

This is the only way to ensure sustainable development and reduce migratory pressure.


Mining is particularly important for youth, especially in African countries where there is extremely high unemployment, as it can provide up to 15 % of direct and indirect jobs. The industry is changing and is becoming increasingly mechanised, which means it is no longer a net job creator. One result is that African youths are turning to artisanal mining instead of agriculture for their livelihood. This is an issue that needs to be addressed as it has some serious consequences in terms of environmental degradation.

Organised by

    Sanoussi Bilal
    Head of the Economic Transformation and Trade Programme
    European Centre for Development Policy Management
    Antti Karhunen
    Head of Unit Private Sector Framework and Trade
    European Commission - DG for International Cooperation and Development
    Sergio Piazzardi
    Sustanable Growth and Development
    European Commission - DG for International Cooperation and Development
    Lawrence Dechambenoit
    Vice President Corporate Relations Africa
    Zama Nkosi
    Private Sector Expert
    ACP Young Professionals Network
    Herbert Lust
    Vice-President and Managing Director Europe
    Conservation International
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