From a vision to a dream:
The day of drastic changes has arrived and we all get our parts to play. The importance of environmental and social performance, at all times of the economic cycle, is no longer a concern of an individual or a particular group, but of all players: – industry, government and CSOs. It is a moment that all of us must act seriously and responsibly or the extractive industry in general, and mining industry in particular, will be no longer an option for a country to choose for its socio-economic development and for addressing the needs of its population.
In December 2014, the Ministry of Mines and Energy has adopted a vision called “wealth for all” aiming at transforming mining, oil and gas sector into an important pillar of country’s socio-economic development. The vision has then empowered my dream about “A Mining that Brings Smiling.”
What does the dream means for Cambodia?:
The “mining that brings smiling” is a transformation of mining sector to achieve three following key strategic objectives:
1/ Fiscal Objective:
To achieve fair and competitive state returns / government take from development and extraction of country’s mineral resources through:
- Increasing foreign direct investments in exploration and discoveries of new resources;
- Fast tracking all development projects and productions; and
- Enhancing sound and effective revenue collection and management.
2/ Economic Objective:
To achieve sector’s integration within the overall economy and social development framework of the country by means of transforming mining sector into a driver of broad based local industry development, enhancing local contents and development of local mining equipment, tool and services sector (METS) in Cambodia.
3/ Social Objective:
To Allocate first hand benefits of mining operations to local communities living nearby the sites. All mining operations are required to be Eco-friendly and socially responsible. Four strategic measures are needed to achieve this objective:
- Enhancing Corporate Social Responsibility of mining and petroleum companies and requirements of local community development programs in all mining and petroleum operations;
- Building local capacity and empowering community participation and consultation in all stages of mining and petroleum projects;
- Promoting smart and complementarity land-use planning and local development strategic plan; and
- Enforcing international performance standards for environmental and social safeguards.
Where do we stand now in this dream?
Many people may still think that it is just a dream. But, I must say to the industry that they should be better prepare themselves and start to readjust their corporate strategy. The Mining that makes Smiling is no longer a merely dream of one person – but a choice to prosper together, that everyone must take.
The ministry has made significant progresses in taking necessary steps to achieve this goal. The following are some key steps that were taken in 2015:
1/ Establishment of a new regulatory regime, such as sub-decree on mineral licenses, which introduces requirements to:
- Evaluate whether mining is an appropriate land use since early stage, before license is granted, and strict requirement for screening quality of investment and company’s records of environmental and social performance before mining agreement or license are granted;
- Adopt guiding principles of international practices in responsible mining and sustainable development;
- Enforce principle of stakeholder involvement and local community empowerment through application of FPIC principle and integrated community livelihood program at every stage of mining project from planning to closure and post closure. As such, new model of mining agreement was adopted to integrate community development program as part of licensing conditions. Under this new framework, Csr is no longer a charity work of a company. Environmental and social impacts are no longer an externality cost to a mining company, but a corporate long term business strategy under a context of a right-based development approach.
2/ Institutionalizing mechanism and instruments for enhancing sector’s good governance:
The ministry has initiated a number of institutional mechanisms to enhance good governance of which the most important are below:
- Enhance access to information and public disclosure: company is required to be accountable and transparent to a wider stakeholders. Under the new regulatory framework, mining agreements are now a public documents and company is required to facilitate or organize visit and study tours by local community groups and/or civil society organization.
- Enhance social accountability: environmental and social responsibility is an integral part of licensing and regulatory framework. Clear mechanism through commune and local authority for community to file complaints was set up too.
- Promote multi-stakeholder approach in governance: by working closely with dedicated CSOs to promote transparency, check and balance system and good governance in the sector. An “Extractive Industry Governance Forum” is being established this year, to facilitate and promote extensive dialogues and sharing between government, industry and civil society organization on sector policy and strategic issues.
- building local and customized best practice and role model in the country: great efforts have been made by Angkor Gold corp. and MESCO Gold Cambodian co. to pioneer a sustainable model of responsible mining industry. The success of these efforts will be used as illustrative model and training facility for replicating the corporate social responsibility practice in mining sector.
The transformation has started, Nothing can stop us to make our dream come true.
Despite significant progresses have been made, it doesn’t mean that it goes without challenges. The real mining industry has not yet established in Cambodia let alone responsible mining practice.
We know that the path is long and challenging, but our commitment is firm and solid. We are taking all necessary steps, one by one, toward achieving our dream. And let’s be clear about it, in such transitional transformation process, some bad mining practices and behaviors may continue to exist, but it will not be for long. Nothing can stop us, when we have such big and powerful social coalition, formed by professional and ethical industry, CSOs and reform minded government. Such coalition is crucial and forms necessary drivers for all extractive industry sector transformations in Cambodia.
I believe in the efforts to build a mining that make smiling in Cambodia, and I urge all stakeholders to get on board and do their parts too to make this dream possible. Thanks.