The development impacts of mining have traditionally been reported with reference to production, investment, employment, taxation and royalties, and direct effects on the economy. In more recent years, greater emphasis has also been placed on local development impacts, such as the procurement of local goods and services and the provision of skills and infrastructure.
While these are important indicators of the contribution that the mining industry can make to local, regional and national economies, understanding the outcomes of mineral development for communities and society as a whole requires a different type of analysis. Questions such as, what are the effects of mining activities on quality of life and livelihoods? And what is the magnitude and longevity of these effects? are increasingly being asked.
The aim of these questions is to explore what has happened within local communities and societies as a result of mineral development and associated investments. Answers to these questions are more difficult to generate and demand more in terms of analysis, but have huge relevance for the mining industry and society in general.
For mineral companies to demonstrate that their projects are having a human development impact, they must move beyond measurements of input, such as the scale of economic and social investments, or descriptions of activities, programs and their outputs. Instead, they must show that:
• their investments have been co-ordinated to achieve strategic outcomes in areas of greatest need, and for greatest benefit
• there is progress towards human development goals that can be linked to mining
• mining has left long-term positive social and environmental legacies.
In short, to demonstrate whether or not mining projects have a human development impact, measurement must be focussed on outcomes and not just inputs.