AUTHORS: Michael Harris
ABSTRACT: The mining industry operates in an environment increasingly demanding of its products. However, establishing the moral case for taking natural resources from one area to benefit another with most of the profits leaving the host country is becoming increasingly difficult. The same is true of the often irreparable change to delicate ecosystems from mining - why should plants, animals and peoples suffer, often die, in one place to benefit development in another while dominantly enriching distant investors? Most modern mining companies try to operate in an environmental- and community-friendly way but with varying degrees of success. Mining companies answer to shareholders and are regulated by governments; they make common use of tax havens and fiercely resist increased taxation or any hint of “resource nationalism”. Large segments of the industry are suffering from self-inflicted over-investment during the post-GFC euphoria. Increasing demand for most commodities appears likely to continue but the industry will at some point return to a more expansive mood although reserves of most commodities are being easily replaced with peak metal not on the horizon. Mining companies and universities should lead society in establishing an honest debate on the morality of mining in the context of the forecast demand for its products.
KEYWORDS: Morality in mining
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