News & Views

Australian minerals industry and leading business sustainability initiative collaborate to advance human rights dialogue

(Brisbane, 28 October 2013) The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) and the Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA) today released a publication to advance mining and human rights in Australia.

“Australian mining companies operate in increasingly complex social and political environments in which the imperative and the practical measures of respecting human rights are integral to contemporary operations,” according to MCA Chief Executive Office, Mitch Hooke.

“Demonstrating respect for the rights of the people living and working in mining-affected communities is critical to building and sustaining a project’s social license to operate. Respecting human rights is not just the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense to earn and maintain the confidence of the community, starting with their basic human entitlements.

“This takes industry leadership, on the ground commitment to the systemic management of human rights and respect of the sovereignty of governments and their laws and institutions.”

GCNA Executive Manager, Alice Cope said, “Mining activities tend to have a significant footprint, which can bring risks of negative human rights impacts. Understanding and respecting human rights, both in Australia and offshore, is critical for mining companies to contribute positively to communities and development more broadly.”

The Australian Minerals Industry and Human Rights: Managing Human Rights Risks and Opportunities through the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights highlights how Australian minerals companies are implementing the United Nations’ framework on business and human rights to manage risk and maximise the opportunities to contribute positively to recognition and protection of human rights.

Ms Cope said, “The UN Guiding Principles are the global standard for business on human rights, and it’s great to have this engagement from the Australian minerals industry around what is a critical challenge, but also a significant opportunity.”

“The MCA is proud to collaborate with the GCNA on this publication,” Mr Hooke said. “We have a number of common members and a shared commitment to continuous improvement in the practical advancement of human rights and the global pursuit of sustainable development

“The case studies from MMG Limited, BHP Billiton, Newmont and Rio Tinto in this publication demonstrate the industry’s achievements to date and point to the next steps to be taken. It will provide practical guidance to other companies that are at the early stages of implementing the UN Guiding principles.”

Minerals Council of Australia

The MCA represents Australia’s exploration, mining and minerals processing industry, nationally and internationally, in its contribution to sustainable development and society. The MCA’s strategic objective is to advocate public policy and operational practice for a globally competitive industry that is safe, profitable, innovative and environmentally and socially responsible.

Contact: Brenda Conroy, Assistant Director – Corporate Affairs, 0447 452 675

Global Compact Network Australia

The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative, with over 10,000 participants committed to respecting universal principles in human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption and supporting UN goals including sustainable development. The business-led Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA) brings together Australian signatories to the UN Global Compact to advance the private sector’s contribution to inclusive sustainable development through providing a national and international platform for dialogue, learning and influence that is practical and leading edge.

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