The Trust Gap

In my recent meetings and chats, face-to-face and online, I've considered and discussed the gap between mining/exploration companies, government mining institutions and environmental agencies, NGO's, investors, and the public.  This gap exists between the parties that have the mineral and human resources, the parties that have the statutory powers to regulate and oversee operations, and society (the people of today and tomorrow), who should share in the benefits of mining.  It hampers full cooperation between these parties, and is largely the result of a lack of trust, in my view.

Government institutions believe that companies are only in business to benefit themselves, and only pay lip service to environmental and social regulations, etc.  Mining companies often have a jaundiced view of government institutions, especially in developing countries.  NGO's appear to share both these views, and are seemingly more often in the business of selling bad news, than in trying to help solve any problems.  And the public probably associates with all the abovementioned distrusts.

So… how do we start bridging this “Trust Gap”?  Surely the solution must involve industry associations (Chambers of Mines, bodies like the ICMM, etc.) and also independent consultants and consulting companies?  These are already active in the industry, but frequently aligned with either the mining companies as contractors, or with the government institutions in donor-funded projects.  I believe we need to find a way to play a more pivotal, neutral role.