Toronto, Canada – Although the extraction of minerals and metals is one of the world’s most important economic sectors, mainstream media coverage of the mining industry has been essentially negative for at least the past four decades.
The mining industry is not popular today. Commodity prices continue to fluctuate, affecting all facets of the industry, while cost-cutting and downsizing are integral to the business plans of many mining companies’ strategies. Moreover, mining-related stories generally only reach the general public when things go wrong: tailings ponds disasters, child labour scandals, poisonous gas leaks, flooding, underground explosions, or even investment fraud.
However, minerals and metals are the building blocks of the computers, smartphones, tablets, vehicles, buildings, heating and air conditioning units upon which we depend daily – and even some emerging green technologies. High market demands for metals, and the increasing uses of rare earth elements in everyday technologies, have made mining a thriving industry for most of the 21st century.
So, when the benefits of mining are evident in our daily lives, why does the mainstream media – and society in general – tend to be biased against the mining industry?
It is estimated that some 11-13 million people are directly dependent on some form of mining worldwide . Many countries perceive this sector as a mainstay of their economic development. There is compelling evidence to show that countries that adopt strict regulations governing mining – while nevertheless still offering a mining-friendly jurisdiction – will attract international investment in mineral exploration and production, creating jobs and boosting economies.
Although there have been scattered attempts by local and regional players to address the public image of the mining industry in a more relevant, 21st century-aware way, there is a common perception that the old business which once industrialised the globe no longer meets contemporary requirements for renewable, green, environmentally-aware industries, and can be dismissed as obsolete. More than a decade and a half ago, Vivian Danielson, the former editor of the Northern Miner, addressed this crucial question in a speech: “The industry must wonder at times why so much emphasis is placed on even the smallest of its sins, and why little or no attention is paid to companies doing things right or to companies with outstanding environmental records. The answer is simple: controversy sells […]. And mining, by its very nature, is controversial.” This remains true today, although there are many success stories that the industry could hold up as representative of advancements in the industry.
For a full version of the article by Mary Murray - Consultant at Pedersen & Partners, based in Canada with 20 years of experience in providing strategic human resources, human services and customer service guidance to local and international clients in the mining, environmental, and natural resources sectors, please refer to the attachment below.