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Sustainability // Sustainability

Sustainable Mining

Mining and metals production has been, and remains, important to the initial economic and social development of many countries including Australia, the USA, Malaysia and, more recently, China. It can therefore be recognised that the prudent and responsible use of natural resources is an important driver of economic growth which contributes to sustainable development and poverty reduction1.

ITRI members are committed to the social and economic development of sustainable communities associated with the operations, and have made significant contributions through financial support and community development programmes. By assisting in education and health care, promoting local employment and infrastructure, providing training opportunities and giving preference to purchases of local goods and services, tin producers are determined to maintain and improve their social responsibility and engagement

It should also be noted that the leading tin producers, as members of ITRI, all endeavour to conduct their activities in a manner contributing to the wider goal of sustainable development, taking account of established local policies, and acting within the framework of laws, regulations and administrative practices in the countries in which they operate, and in consideration of relevant international agreements, principles, objectives, and standards.

However, there are a number of well-documented challenges associated with translating mineral wealth into national wealth. Too often, for example, mining revenues have been squandered by governing elites or exacerbated corruption, while in fragile states competing claims over such revenues have sometimes fuelled conflict. As a result, the mining industry in general often needs to deal with a range of issues associated with real or perceived, environmental or social impacts. Encouragingly, however, just as problems associated with mineral wealth are now widely documented, solutions to these challenges are increasingly understood. These include sound macro-economic policies, transparency in how mineral revenues are reported and spent, improvements in State governance, public investment focused on development priorities, and also companies giving priority to local employment and procurement2.

ITRI Policy Statement on Artisinal and Small Scale Production of Tin (English/French)

The tin mining industry has certain unique characteristics, such as the significant contribution of artisinal and small scale miners (ASM) to production, which also have an important influence on our activities. Almost all (~97%) of the worlds primary refined tin arises and is mined in emerging and developing countries3 and in a typical year around 40% of that has its origins in ASM4. This contrasts with other major metals which are often exploited mainly by large-scale multi-national companies. ITRI recognises the importance of this ASM sector and the unique issues associated with it, and has developed a policy which will help us in our overall aim of seeking an improvement in the human rights, health and safety, and environmental performance of ASM operators in order to build a sustainable industry.

iTSCI Joint Industry Traceability and Due Diligence Programme (Read more)

iTSCi is a joint industry programme of traceability and due diligence designed to address concerns over 'conflict minerals' such as cassiterite from central Africa. The iTSCi system aims to meet the needs of companies wishing to maintain trade with responsible supply chain actors in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and adjoining countries, as well as to meet due diligence expectations of the international community in terms of guidance from the UN, OECD and national laws such as the Dodd Frank Act in the US. It aims to encourage progressive improvement in the cassiterite and other conflict mineral sectors as well as sustainable production and economic development in the longer term.

Unconventional Mining in Bangka-Belitung, Indonesia (Read more)

There is a significant presence of small scale mining in Indonesia where a large proportion of the local population depend on mining as an important source of income. Concerns have been raised by certain groups such as Friends of the Earth with regards to the environmental impacts of these informal activities which are complicated by a number of other social and economically significant aspects. However it is important to make the distinction between the informal unconventional mining sector in the region, and the formalised mining sector which is characterised by companies such as PT Timah who operate under a strict commitment to the environment and good governance. ITRI continues to engage all stakeholders in a step by step process to lasting improvements.

Cassiterite from Myanmar, including the Wa Division (Read more)

In recent years, tin production from the Self-Administered Division allocated to the Wa ethnic people in Myanmar has increased significantly to become an important part of the world’s tin supply. Various media reports have highlighted potential impacts of US narcotic trafficking sanctions on the tin trade from this region, and other stakeholders have queries regarding the conflict status of the minerals produced. In the highly complex situation that exists in Myanmar, including around the various ethnic armed groups and the ongoing peace process, gathering and evaluation of information takes some time. ITRI continues to develop knowledge on this mining area.

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[1] Principles of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)
[2] ICMM, Comments on Mining and Economic Development
[3] Country definition of International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook, April 2008 [4] In 2007, 51.2% of mine production arose from small operations (ITRI estimate)
[4] In 2007, 51.2% of mine production arose from small operations (ITRI estimate)

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