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Why we all need to care about artisanal mining solutions

Why we all need to care about artisanal mining solutions

Artisanal mining is becoming an increasingly important issue as we examine the challenges faced by mined material supply chains. But, the importance of these solutions goes well beyond mining.


Artisanal mining is becoming an increasingly important issue as we examine the challenges faced by mined material supply chains. In his latest guest blog Rob Kaparti sets out two major projects that offer solutions that we can apply at scale. These are the Sanu Kura project in Burkina Faso, and work undertaken to formalise artisanal mining in Mozambique.

But, the importance of these solutions goes well beyond mining. It also highlights some wider 'truths' about how we find solutions to other sustainability transitions. How we need to listen to all voices, if we are to implement financially viable alternatives. How we describe and think about the challenges has a massive influence on what solutions we throw up, and how likely they are to be delivered and to really make a difference.

Explaining the drivers of upcoming sustainability changes, and getting the solutions embedded into an organisation's future strategy, is a key role of all sustainability professionals. Understanding the solutions in artisanal mining can help with this process.



The details

Why we all need to care about artisanal mining solutions

And it's not just for the reasons you might think.

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. John F. Kennedy

Over the last few months, Rob Karpati from The Blended Capital Group has written a series of guest blogs for us on artisanal mining. He has started with the challenges, and has gradually worked his way through the issues to some of the solutions. In today's blog he starts to pull this all together, specifically looking at two key projects that can help us find 'solutions at scale'.


Why are artisanal mining solutions important, even if you are not a miner?

Before we hand over to Rob, we want to stand back a bit and discuss why this is such an important topic. Even for sustainability professionals who have little exposure to the mining industry.

It's to do with the process. How we describe and think about the challenges has a massive influence on what solutions we throw up, and how likely they are to be delivered and to really make a difference.

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A good friend and colleague Sharath Jeevan once said to me that the sustainability transitions are one of the ultimate examples of what are called 'wicked problems'. One reason for this is that, to quote Rittel & Webber, "their solutions are not true or false, only good or bad.".

Clearly ethical considerations are one of the main reasons why we need to care about solving some of the challenges that arise from artisanal mining. But they are not the only reason. Thinking about artisanal mining also highlights the challenges faced by sustainability professionals in a whole range of other transitions. Think of it as a microcosm of the transition challenge.

By and large sustainability professionals are seeking solutions that are both financially deliverable and good.

Attracting finance for sustainability solutions is not just about the process of constructing an investment case (something we have been discussing in recent Sunday Brunches)...it's also about helping our finance colleagues understand that change is coming. And that as businesses, we can either prepare for this change, and enable our organisation to continue to prosper. Or we can ignore it, and most likely fall victim to it.

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Sustainability professionals are not only well placed to explain the upcoming changes, but they also have a key role in ensuring the best solutions are properly included in their organisation's future strategies.

The artisanal mining challenge is a good example of this.

Organisations in the mining sector, and those who use the raw materials they produce, can choose to ignore the issues. That is a perfectly viable solution, for a while. But it's highly unlikely that it will turn out to be a good one for the mid and long term future of the organisation.

As it becomes clearer that we are going to need more mined materials if the transitions are going to happen, then mining supply chains will come under more scrutiny. Not just from an ethical perspective, but also in terms of the industry's ability to raise the necessary capital to expand, to get permits to operate, and in the recruitment of bright new graduates.

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