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Mining Companies Reminded Of Social, Environmental Responsibilities 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

CameroonPostline.com — Mining companies in Cameroon have been reminded of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) vis-à-vis local communities where they are doing business. The call was made in Yaounde on January 30 by Durrel Halleson, Extractive Policy Officer at WWF-Cameroon while talking to the press at a sensitisation workshop on CSR that targeted companies in the mining sector, State officials as well as members of the civil society.

The workshop was a prelude to the official launching on January 31 by the Ministry of Mines and Technological Development of a project to build capacities in the mining sector dubbed: “PRECASEM Project.” Durrel said the needs of local communities and the protection of biodiversity must seriously be considered.
 

He noted that the role of CSR entails that mining companies integrate social, economic and environmental aspects in their operations. “Our main concern is to ensure that development goes hand in hand with environmental protection, respect of human rights and the rights of the mine workers. This would improve on the conditions of the community and the protection of the environment thus the companies’ contribution to sustainable development,” he stated.

Meanwhile, in a presentation on the general principles of CSR, a Mining Specialist at the World Bank, Kirsten Hund, said the main reason behind the concept is to “build better relations with local mining communities and in response to demand from shareholders, consumers, employees and other stakeholders.

” She said social and environmental problems emanating from mineral exploitation could be done in a way that is also good for business. According to Hund, CSR is not a choice, for “social and environmental issues are as important as technical issues for a mining operation to succeed. CSR is about value creation and charity. CSR is smart business,” she maintained.

Expounding on the principles of CSR as it is being implemented by the Cameroon administration, the Deputy Director of the Advanced Institute of Public Management, Viviane Ondoua Biwolé, said there are still a number of pitfalls in terms of respecting the procedures and content of the assessment documents. She observed that there is very little control and field visits of the project sites by the decentralised administrations concerned. She also talked of missing indicators and lack of statistical data as some of the shortcomings.
 

Mrs. Biwolé said institutional frameworks including the Ministry of Environment and other related ministries, donors, local communities, mayors and elite of areas where mining operations are taking place must permanently work in concertation for expected results to be attained.

She noted that procedural tools such as public audiences where social and environmental assessments are presented, the elaboration of environmental and social management plans and the delivery of environmental conformity certificates are measures that must effectively be implemented.

Mme Roseline Fischer of GIZ presented a study relating to the CSR profile of Cameroon while the Canadian High Commissioner to Cameroon, Benoit-Pierre Laramée, talked on CSR, the Canadian experience. Other speakers included Arend Van Der Goes who spoke on what CSR represents to private enterprises while Cédric Foumena of RELUFA presented a paper on the role of the civil society and local communities in the putting in place of the CSR principle.
 

First published in The Post print edition no 01405

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