4.0 Corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is `the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large' (WBCSD 1999:3). It embraces ideals of community development and engagement, which are addressed in an earlier handbook in the Leading Practice in Sustainable Development Program for the Mining Industry series (DITR 2006b). This section briefly presents some key concepts in that handbook and then provides some illustrations from a community health and safety perspective.


Community development is fundamentally about contributing to communities so that they are better able to meet their needs and aspirations, both now and in the future. At its broadest, it is as much about improving quality of life as it is about increasing standards of living in purely economic terms.

Community development includes helping people to link up and support each other through organisations and networks. It can also involve industry working with or influencing governments, other institutions and agencies to contribute to such areas as:

  • improving public health and other services
  • enhancing the local environment
  • building community pride
  • strengthening local institutions
  • working with marginalised groups to help them participate more fully in the development of their community.

Community engagement may involve no more than a basic level of interaction with the local community, such as providing information about the operation. This is often facilitated through information booths, media releases, newsletters, brochures, mailout programs, websites and hotlines. The use of these techniques is often perceived as a way to present basic information to the widest range of stakeholders. As the engagement process moves towards a more directed method of stakeholder interaction, consultation may be used to ascertain specific areas of risk and opportunity. This interaction can involve public meetings, discussion groups, polls, surveys and focus groups.

(Source: DITR (2006b) Community Engagement and Development)

4.1 Community development in a health and safety context

The ICMM's Good practice guidance on health impact assessment (ICCM 2010) highlights the important and positive contribution that mining companies can make to the health and wellbeing of mine workers and the communities in which they operate. It also encourages the careful selection of health and safety interventions that match the needs of the local community and take advantage of the organisation's resources and expertise.

Based on a 2013 review of its member companies' health programs, the ICMM has identified five common community health strategies used by mining companies:

  • global and regional health initiatives, usually characterised by investment in an existing program
  • communicable disease control initiatives in Africa and Asia, addressing diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria among employees, their families and local communities
  • primary healthcare programs implemented by third parties in settings where government health systems are relatively weak
  • support for health programs implemented by local government where district health authorities have enough capacity to directly manage the project
  • specialised health interventions, often targeting marginalised communities, usually in remote areas of developed countries.

In developing countries where people live a higher proportion of their life in poor health and about 36% of deaths continue to be attributable to communicable diseases, maternal and perinatal conditions and nutritional deficiencies (Lopez et al. 2006), broad health initiatives provided by mining companies (such as vaccination programs) can significantly contribute to improvements in community wellbeing.

In developed countries, and also now in many developing countries (such as in Latin America), there has been an increase in the prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases. Controlling those diseases requires interventions that manage a different set of risk factors, more associated with individuals' lifestyles, that can be less amenable to change. For example, the common risk factors underpinning the four major non-communicable disease groups (cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes) are tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.

Table 4.1 shows some health-related community programs supported by mining companies operating in Australia. A range of activities is supported: some focus on the broader population, while others focus on specific groups (children, young people). Initiatives could be grouped according to whether they address the prevention (education, activity/sport facilities), early detection and treatment (special needs in schools), or long-term management of health-related issues (recovery services, mental health strategies)- termed primary, secondary or tertiary care, respectively. Most have been focused on addressing health issues relevant to remote communities, including Indigenous communities and including by providing better access to medical and support services.

Table 4.1: Example of recent community development activities in Australia

Anglo American, financial contributions:
  • Moranbah 2020 community investment program
  • Used to deliver key community infrastructure projects, including an aquatic centre in Moranbah, upgrades to local infrastructure, assistance with special needs in schools, new housing infrastructure and an alliance with the RACQ rescue helicopter
BHP Billiton, financial contributions:
  • Swim and Survive program (Royal Life Saving Society Western Australia)-through this 10-year partnership, BHPBilliton has supported targeted community programs such as Swim and Survive, Keep Watch, Watch Around Water,Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pools, Infant Aquatics and Indigenous Traineeships
Centennial Coal, financial contributions:
  • Upgrading information technology system (Lithgow Community Private Hospital)
Glencore Qld, financial contributions:
  • Family crisis accommodation (Townsville's Ronald McDonald House)
  • Recovery services (Salvation Army, Eastern Territory)
  • Homeless kitchen (Mount Isa Jangawala drop-in centre)
  • Youth and Community Engagement Co-ordinator (Cloncurry PCYC)
  • Sport for life program, aimed at young people (Stride Foundation, Mt Isa-uses high-profile sporting role models to deliver health education and life skills workshops to young people living in remote communities
  • Child safe services (Act for Kids)
  • Children's retreat (Townsville Hospital Foundation)
  • Provision of an emergency helicopter (North Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service)
Rio Tinto, financial contributions:
  • Building the capacity of FIFO communities (Ngala, Western Australia)-aims to build the capacity of local service providers and provide them with strategies to better address the needs of a FIFO population; includes an array of workshops in Busselton, Geraldton, Bunbury, Albany, Broome, Perth and Carnarvon
  • Mental health (Disability in the Arts, Disadvantage in the Arts)-addresses mental health issues through a variety of artistic and cultural projects that promote social connection, self-expression and community resilience in five Western Australian regional communities: Busselton, Paraburdoo, Geraldton, Derby and Esperance
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