In recent years, concerns about sustainability and social responsibility have become an increasingly high profile issue in many countries and industries, none more so than the mining industry in Myanmar. Sustainable development in MYTCL’s corporate mining context defines a commitment to continuous environmental and socioeconomic improvement, from operations through to closure and post-closure management.
Building CSR for MYTCL relates to activities in terms of lifelong values achieved through the following:
economic development – investment of generated revenues to ensure the future development and long-term livelihood of the communities;
environmental protection – the minimisation of environmental impacts of natural resource exploitation and land rehabilitated to allow successive use;
social cohesion – the minimisation of social and cultural disruption to the communities, maintenance of stakeholder dialogue and transparency of operation.
This is the fundamental concept of Corporate Conscience, and it is identified through the development of CSR programs, with the direction of their focus pinpointed onto the community.
DEFINING MYTCL BEST PRACTICE – ISO 26000
When it comes to CSR and the activities that MYTCL has completed over the course of the years, highlighted is the key element of cooperation that has made every year a success. Government officials, MEHL partners, communities, company employees and management have unified in transparent and open communications of the processes and goals of the projects initiated. There are a wide variety of definitions and strategies aligned with CSR within the international arena, but the underlying message is the same in every case.
The European Commission makes this message clear as it defines CSR simply as: “the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society”.
There is a secondary component that is closely related to CSR, and which is often confused as one in the same, but is quite different in its function. This is Community Development:
“Community Development is the process of increasing the strength and effectiveness of communities, improving people’s quality of life and enabling people to participate in decision making to achieve greater long-term control over their lives.” International Council on Mining & Metals
At Myanmar Yang Tse Copper Limited we undertake voluntary actions directly related to both the CSR and Community Development strategies, and have integrated a process to address social, environmental and ethical human rights within our business operations, closely consulting and collaborating with our Stakeholders. Efforts focus on the approach to either improve the living conditions (economic, social, and environmental) of local communities, or to reduce the negative impacts of our mining projects. By definition, MYTCL’s voluntary actions are those that go beyond legal obligations, contracts, and licence agreements. Combining these 2 functions into the core strategy of MYTCL’s CSR and CSD (Community and Social Development) Programs creates an environment recognised as following Best Practice in community relations, and although the concept is new to the region, and at times not clearly understood by all members of the community or government, the collaborations that occur are fundamental in maintaining the Best Practice scenario.
In 2015, the improvements that will be made to ensure Best Practice principles are met include the implementation of ISO 26000 as a guide and framework to integrate and to implement social responsibility into our values and practices. This ISO focuses on sustainable development, growth and change that maintains and improves the natural environment, human resources, and society upon which we depend. ISO 26000 provides information and decision-making tools for MYTCL to identify ways that we can improve our impacts on the people and place that we work and live in, and thereby become “more valuable and valued members of our society”.
SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND MINING
MYTCL’s CSR programs usually invest in infrastructure (potable water, electricity, schools, roads, hospitals, hospital equipment, drainage repairs, etc.), building social capital (providing information on HIV prevention, workshops on gender issues, information on family planning, improving hygiene, etc.), and building human capital (providing for high-school and university education, training local people to be employed by our mining enterprise or to provide outsourced services, promote and provide skills on micro-business, aquaculture, crop cultivation, animal rearing, textile production), and so on. We have voluntarily allocated a CSR budget in cooperation with MEHL and chosen to undertake CSR programs in order to build better relations with the local mining communities in which we operate and in response to the requests from our neighbouring villagers in times of need.
The plan for the coming years is to move away from the short-term achievements and to look at more life-long and sustainable opportunities for the communities that are engaged with us. Our sustainable community development programs will be established to contribute to contribute to the long-term strengthening of community capability. Globally, the most sustainable beneficial legacies that community development programs around a mining and metals operation may leave are in the skills and capacities that training, employment and education programs for local people provide. The collaborations for the 2015-16 CSR Programs of MYTCL will push for a focus generating off-site growth and potential, and following or adapting international success projects. The essential element of these sustainable community development programs will be that they can survive without input from MYTCL, especially after the mining project is finished. Thus, community sustainability can be supported by mining practices that help convert one local asset, namely non-renewable natural resource capital, into other local assets, namely sustainable social, economic and environmental capital.