Marijanti Babić, Country Head Serbia, Rio Tinto

Public Dialogue Is Crucial to the Future of Mining

The mining industry continues to evolve through the advance of technology, the raising of environmental protection standards and the way it engages communities that live side-by-side with projects

Mining has been crucial to the development of civilisations for centuries. Today’s high standards of living have been built on mining minerals. Energy for our homes and how we heat them; our mobility such as daily travel; and our food, including the farming equipment that cultivates it; are all dependent on mining. If it isn’t grown, then it’s mined. While the mining industry is crucial to modern lifestyles, modern mining has failed to properly tell its story to communities and the general public.

The green transition is also dependent on mining and critical minerals to electrify transport, and develop energy storage and wind turbines, among other renewable technologies. This means a public dialogue about the merits of mining are crucial.

While the world requires minerals, people need to ensure the highest environmental standards are adhered to, and secure benefits for local communities.

Public dialogue and engagement are crucial to mining

Mining is a complex industry. Engagement with various stakeholders is crucial for the mining industry to ensure responsible and sustainable practices. Open and transparent communication with stakeholders builds credibility and trust. A proactive approach allows potential social, environmental and regulatory risks to be addressed early in the project lifecycle.

Dialogue with local communities is essential to fostering collaboration, addressing concerns and ensuring that mining activities contribute positively to the wellbeing of the communities in which they operate

Engagement with environmental organisations and regulatory bodies ensures the highest environmental stewardship, while engaging positively with stakeholders contributes to improving the mining industry’s reputation and attracts investors, employees and partners.

What engaging in dialogue can bring to communities

Collaboration with local communities must lead to mutually beneficial outcomes. The mining industry can contribute to local economic development through job creation, skills training and infrastructure improvements, enhancing the overall wellbeing of a community. It should also ensure that community input is integrated into decision-making processes and enable the tailoring of mining practices to the specific needs of local communities, ensuring that mining operations align with the cultural, social and economic context.

Rio Tinto is improving the way it operates based, in part, on how it cooperates with communities. And communities also gain additional value from that. In Serbia we have learned a lot. We have always strived to be transparent and open to hearing the concerns and inputs of local communities. We could always do better to ensure that the community has the relevant facts about environmental, social and economic impacts and benefits. We’ve spoken directly to more than 2,600 community members following the cancelling of the Jadar Project permits in order to transparently share as much information as we can.

In conclusion, collaboration with local communities promotes shared benefits and joint efforts in environmental protection and sustainable development. Dialogue with local communities is essential to fostering collaboration, addressing concerns and ensuring that mining activities contribute positively to the wellbeing of the communities in which they operate.

We invite our local communities to participate in the dialogue, to get involved and to stand up for everything that’s important for them, to ensure it is undertaken in the best possible way.

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