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The views expressed are those of the author s and do not necessarily represent those sicerperu the International Development Research Centre. Mention of a proprietary name does not constitute endorsement of the product and is given only for information.

A microfiche edition is available. This book may be consulted online at http: Lessons for Chile — Juanita Gana. Mining and environment — the two do not seem to go together.

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Indeed, they seem almost antithetical. Whether one reads about small-scale gold mining in the Amazon or huge coal mines in North America, whether simple sand and gravel pits or complex metallurgical operations, the legacy of the mining industry appears to be destruction of land and pollution of air and water.

Actually, of course, the situation is much more complex. True, mining always involves disruption of the environment, either at the surface with open-pit mines or underground with deep mines, and in most cases the mineral being sought sidrperu up only a small part of the material that must be moved, with the result that vast quantities of waste must be handled.

True too, for many years and in most parts of the world the North no less than the Southmining was carried on with little regard for environmental protection — or for the health and safety of miners or for the culture and well-being of local communities.

However, the picture of mining firms operating with little regard for nature or native is no longer accurate. Under some conditions, and in some corporations, and in some countries, protection of the environment, of miners, and of nearby communities has become nearly as much a concern as putting a rock in the box.

International Development Research Centre IDRC funding is based on the principle that solutions to problems in developing countries can only be found through research based in those countries. From this perspective, it is not so much the record of past destruction of the natural environment that is of interest, but the dynamics of a new business environment in which corporate decisions and government legislation work in tandem to avoid damages that are avoidable and to mitigate those that are not.

Of course, there remain as many cases where the old conditions persist, and it is equally of interest to learn where and why this new business environment has not appeared.

The further conclusion that environmental results are partially independent of the strength of mining legislation suggests the need for governments to take a more sophisticated approach to mining-environment policy. Corporate attitudes are changing; government policies are changing; civil society is changing: The need for further research is almost self-evident.

IDRC’s interest in mining in developing countries predates today’s recognition of environmental values and its focus on mining-environment policy. During the s, research projects funded by IDRC focused mainly on science and technology policy for mining or on measures to improve efficiency. With the partial exception of a couple of projects that investigated health conditions in Bolivian mines in particular, the effects of living and working at high altitudesenvironment was very much secondary.

An explicit environmental project related to mining does not appear untiland somewhat ironically the first such project was the Bolivian component in the initial phase of MERN, as described in Chapter 8 in this book. Other projects looked at the effects of mercury from gold mining.

Closely related projects also began to be funded, including some that focused less on environmental problems per se than on conflicts that stemmed from the power of the mining industry to usurp what had been common-property resources.

A good example was the dispute over water that occurred between Southern Peru Copper Company and the community of Ilo, just north of Peru’s border with Chile. Another line of research that was initiated about the same time involved the effects of macroeconomic conditions and policies in various Latin America countries on the linkage between environmental degradation and mineral operations.

If the analytical focus of mining research funded by IDRC changed from technical efficiency to environmental protection, the geographic focus did not. With the exception of a collection of projects that focused on artisanal mining mainly for gems in Africa and Asia, the projects have almost all involved Latin America.

This emphasis is not surprising: IDRC’s program in South America focuses on the Andean countries, and this region is, perhaps more than any other in the world, dependent on mining for economic health.

This focus is likely to continue. As this book appears, IDRC is conducting an inventory of research and researchers on mining and environment in the continent.

From this, it is hoped that a long-term strategy for a coordinated program of research, probably focusing on ecosystem health, will emerge.


Ecosystem health is a new approach that links the effects on human health that stem from adverse anthropogenic changes to the natural environment. The objective would be to siderpru what changes in government or corporate policies and what forms of community involvement in decision making would do most to protect local and regional ecosystems and, therefore, human health.

For the time being, however, what is needed is analytically sound documentation of the extent and the effects of recent changes in the business environment, as reflected in corporate behaviour and government policy. This is done very effectively, and for a wide range of corporations and conditions, in this first book from MERN. The editor would like to extend particular thanks to Lisa Eisen, whose tireless and diligent editorial siderperh was vital in preparing these chapters for cayalogo.

Special catalpgo are also due to Yvette Siderpfru and Gavin Bridge for their help with the original manuscript. This book reflects the insight and hard work of many researchers and affiliates of the Mining and Environment Research Network MERN whose comments during MERN’s annual research meetings contributed to the research contained within these pages.

This book describes a caralogo of building research capacity in the area of mining and the environment. This process began in the mids in Latin America, when a number of policy researchers — working together within International Development Research Centre IDRC -supported projects on issues of competitiveness, production efficiency, and technological change — began observing a noticeable association between production inefficiencies and environmental damage.

This was at a time when countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and Peru either had a poorly developed or nonexistent environmental regulatory regime or lacked the institutional capacity to implement environmental policy. An early observation, examined in detail in this book, was that environmental regulation seemed to fail as the prime determinant of good environmental practice. Environmental performance of firms seemed to differ as much within one regulatory regime as between different regulatory regimes.

These observations suggested the need for empirical research at the firm and plant levels, both to describe the environmental practices observed and to check these against the types of operations, vintages of technology, and competitive situations of the minerals sectors of the Americas. Our rationale was to learn how to improve public policies and corporate strategies for the environment.

This research was unfolding in two interrelated contexts. First, many mineral-producing countries were entering a period of economic liberalization, with privatization of previously state-owned mining companies and investment regimes opening up to attract international mining firms. Second, an environmental imperative was fast emerging, with increasingly stringent environmental regulations; growing voice-of-society concerns; environmental conditions often being attached to credit and insurance for new ctaalogo expanding mining operations; and environmental pressures appearing throughout the supply chain, as industry was increasingly demanding that its suppliers meet new environmental standards.

It is also important to recognize that this research was conducted in the early s, when the importance of such diagnostic work was first recognized and we urgently needed descriptive analysis to be able to draw policy lessons. A collaborative framework was devised to undertake this research, and proposals for its funding were submitted to a number of key agencies with portfolios in environment and development. The collaborative research project developed and won the prestigious John D.

MacArthur Foundation Collaborative Studies competition in MERN fast expanded to include a range of different types of interdisciplinary centres of excellence in mineral-producing developing and industrialized countries.

The current list of members is summarized by institution and country in Table 1. From the outset, MERN aimed to provide research analysis to inform environmental public policy and to help mining companies achieve environmental compliance and improve competitiveness in the context of growing environmental regulation and technological innovation see Box 1.

Mining and the Environment

catxlogo The international siverperu research program first set out to examine the relationship between siderpeeru regulation, technical change, and competitiveness in the nonferrous-minerals industry. In particular, it investigated how the process of technological innovation and organizational change could be harnessed to prevent environmental degradation while enhancing productivity and sustainability. The rationale for the international focus of the research effort, in the developing sidereru industrialized countries, was the need to learn from the experience of more competitive and environmentally proactive firms while focusing on the challenges of achieving environmental best practice in siderpwru participating country.

The reason for adopting a network approach, as opposed to working independently, was to build up an international pool of interdisciplinary research competence. In other words, research capacity-building was a goal of the network from the outset. A number of environmental concerns made us decide to work collaboratively toward our research objectives.

Our early research profiles were all in the area of minerals policy and technological change in the mining sector and in the countries where we worked; many of us had done field work in the Andean region. We were all increasingly observing environmental damage associated with minerals extraction or processing activities: Figure 1 shows the relationships between the mining process, its waste products, and the hazards they present. This relates to cataogo impacts affecting the three environmental media of land, water, and air, as well as the effects on local communities.


Although in each country and at each mine site, environmental damage differed, some common explanatory factors seemed to emerge. Some of these, we immediately recognized, flew in the face of conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom maintains the pollution-haven thesis that suggests international firms locate their production activities where they can most easily externalize the environmental-damage costs of their. MERN is an international collaborative research program involving centres of excellence in the major minerals-producing countries of the world.

The program was established inwith the aim of helping mining companies to achieve environmental compliance and improve competitiveness in catlogo context of growing environmental regulation and technological innovation. Our current research examines the relationship between environmental regulation, technical change, and competitiveness in cwtalogo nonferrous-minerals industry. We investigate how the processes of technological innovation and organizational change can be harnessed to prevent environmental degradation while enhancing productivity and sustainability.

The liberalization of investment regimes worldwide, combined with growing environmental regulation and more frequent requirements for an environmental-impact analysis as a precondition for loans, means that objective and well-documented policy analyses are urgently needed to support decision-making in industry, donor sirerperu, government, and nongovernmental organizations.

This program of collaborative research aims to facilitate the global diffusion of such policy analyses and contribute to building international research ctaalogo in this area. Taking this into account and building on our diagnostic research, the next phase of MERN research covers three interrelated themes:. Environmental degradation tends to be greatest in high-cost operations working with obsolete technology, limited capital, and inadequate human-resource management.

Because these problems are characteristic of much of the minerals production of developing countries, they are a special, but not exclusive, focus of MERN research.

A major area of empirical research is an international benchmarking exercise to investigate environmental performance. The research will make an original contribution by evaluating the potential of technology transfer and training particularly if governed by joint-venture agreements and are linked to credit conditionality to accelerate the development and diffusion of improved environmental-management practices.

Researchers are also analyzing the environmental implications of new trade policies and agreements, such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and siderpsru North American Free Trade Agreement. Our current phase of research is intended to evaluate and compare trends in environmental best practice for nonferrous-minerals production in different socioeconomic and policy contexts, drawing out the lessons for both corporate strategy and government policy.

This includes empirical research on planning for closure within the minerals industry. The output siserperu MERN includes ongoing publication of research articles and reports, conference papers, books including edited volumes of case studiesa biannual bulletin and briefing papers suderperu sponsors, national workshops, and an annual international conference.

As the MERN members develop research capability and define new areas of work and as demands on MERN’s central resources increase, new funding is being sought. The benefits for MERN’s sponsors include full access to MERN’s central services and research findings which include the results of detailed empirical studies in most of the major minerals-producing countries and to a network of contacts, including interdisciplinary teams in well-placed centres of excellence.

However, an early, common observation explored in these studies was that environmental damage was not evenly distributed within the minerals sector of each developing country studied but that seemed to vary according to a number of other factors, such as type of mineral; vintage of technology; stage of investment; stage of operation; level of integration; effectiveness of environmental regulation and its enforcement; and socioeconomic context including poverty in local communities and work-force cxtalogo and training.

Most of all, environmental performance varied according to the firm’s inherent technological dynamism. These studies are therefore unique in refusing to accept a priori conventional wisdom and seeking to investigate actual suderperu performance and its determinants at the mine site and across a range of siderperh factors. The intellectual benefits of working together in a network and collaborating across a range of research and dissemination activities were greater than they would have been as the sum of the efforts of each siderpetu working alone.

The mining catapogo and the environment. As we grew from an initial 6 institutions to 56, luckily so did information technology grow in sophistication.

We now do most of our networking activities via electronic communication. The network produces a bulletin twice annually, and this contains progress reports from each group, policy updates, industry news, professional articles, and a conference calendar. We recently completed Bulletin No.

Once a year, MERN meets for a research workshop on a theme-by-theme basis. Workshop themes have included mining and sustainable development; pollution prevention, risk, and responsibility; planning for closure; and best practice in the management of mining’s ecological impacts.