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How Canada is leading the approach to CSR in mining

Canada’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in mining demonstrates that the extractive sector can help to build a country. Its extractive companies in the mining, oil and natural gas industries make the biggest contribution to Canadian prosperity.

They are making substantial contributions to economic development in the other countries in which they operate. The Canadian extractive sector’s activity abroad results in a win-win outcome both for the Canadian economy and that of host countries.

A first CSR Initiative in 2009

In 2009, the government of Canada launched its first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy, “Building the Canadian advantage: Canada’s CSR strategy for the Canadian international extractive sector.” It outlined Canada’s commitment to promoting CSR, defined as the voluntary activities that are undertaken by a company – over and above legal requirements – to operate in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner.

Canada’s new approach to CSR

The Canadian Government’s enhanced CSR strategy was announced in 2014. The goal was to strengthen the CSR Strategy by enhancing the ability of the Canadian extractive sector companies to manage social and environmental risks in a manner that aligns with international CSR guidelines and best practices and also brings lasting benefits for those affected by their projects.

The Government expected Canadian companies to integrate CSR in mining throughout their management structures so that they operate abroad in an economic, social and environmentally sustainable manner. Organizations should understand the impact of each of their functions on the surrounding economy, community, and environment, and adjust their activities and operations to create value for themselves and other stakeholders.

Right from the start

To get more fulsome risk assessments for managers and investors, and improve the chances of far-reaching benefits from Canadian investments, the Canadian government encourages organizations to:

  • respectfully engage relevant stakeholders, early on and regularly
  • understand local customs, culture, and expectations, and how they affect and are affected by, the project
  • work with stakeholders to determine and communicate environmental, social and economic impact solutions
  • explore opportunities to build local capabilities
  • work with locals to develop a joint plan to contribute to local development
  • strategically incorporate this information throughout their planning and management structures.

CSR tools for mining benefits

The Canadian government has developed a CSR Checklist to provide Canadian mining companies developing mining projects abroad with a tool that can assist them to plan for and mitigate potential environmental, social and ethical challenges they may encounter. The checklist is designed to raise awareness of basic community relations approaches and to prepare companies to successfully engage communities and address social risk.

Getting it right is no longer a mystery. Good community relations is not about spending money; it is first and foremost about treating people with respect, about being seen as taking a transparent and fair approach to the distribution of benefits and about taking responsibility for project impacts.

What’s next?

The Canadian CSR Strategy will be reviewed again in 2019, to examine the degree to which it continues to enhance the ability of Canadian extractive sector companies to improve their CSR performance and secure the benefits their presence can provide for host countries and local communities.

The Canadian government will continue to share effective practices with other extractive sector companies to improve CSR performance across the board.

Comprehensive CSR management

Effectively managing CSR in mining requires an integrated software solution, ingrained in the discipline and culture of the organization. For the last 20 years, IsoMetrix has been providing the mining industry with specialized solutions for managing Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC). The IsoMetrix range of solutions supports the mining industry in managing all aspects of GRC across a mine lifecycle, including Social Sustainability by providing real-time data visibility and exposing risks as and when they happen. Learn more about CSR for mining.


About the Author

Benoit Froment was appointed as Director: North America for Metrix Software Solutions in October 2015. Benoit is responsible for leading the IsoMetrix operations in the US and Canada, including Sales and Marketing, Implementation and Customer Support. He is also an IsoMetrix Subject Matter Expert in Social Sustainability.