Researchers from Australia’s University of Queensland have published the first ever global dataset of mining-induced displacement and resettlement.
According to a recent press release, the dataset, which took four years to develop and contains 270 resettlement events, will provide mining companies an evidence base to develop best practice.
The UQ Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining’s Professor John Owen explained that mining displacement events had been underreported in the past and collating the information for the dataset was challenging.
The mining sector has a long history of relocating people but not much has been documented or made available to the public.
For over a decade, there have been explicit requirements for companies to disclose resettlement plans but finding this information, even today, is tough going.
To develop a global, public-facing dataset, without a stock of public information has been difficult. Hopefully, companies increase their efforts and make more of this information available.
Mining, according to the Professor, often required the displacement of people and property. The emerging global standard is for companies to collaborate with the displaced to re-create a viable community.
The continued absence of public records is surprising.
Without this kind of information, no one is in a position to know which mining projects displaced people, in which countries, how many people were affected, or whether or not the resettlement successfully met or exceeded the standard.
This dataset addresses the problem by increasing awareness about mining-induced displacement. May industry and different stakeholder groups use it to improve practice and outcomes for those in the path.
The dataset is part of the work of the Mining and Resettlement Consortium, which is a university-industry partnership led by the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM).
The consortium’s collaboration signals that mining companies recognise the need to understand how mining and resettlement risks are being managed and the need to develop social safeguards around those risks.
The release of the information has been welcomed by industry partners and by the International Network on Displacement and Resettlement (INDR).
The INDR works in all aspects of development induced displacement.
The Professor highlighted that work on the dataset would continue. As it grows and more people use it, the team will be able to develop a better foundation for benchmarking.
Resettlement and displacement is a difficult problem for the mining industry, and the Consortium is working to develop strategies for responding effectively.
INDR President, Professor Theodore Downing recognised that the dataset was a valuable resource. He commended the University’s research team for being at the cutting edge of a critical issue in mining.
According to him, this is a fantastic service to the profession.