Mining and social development: Refocusing community investment using multi-criteria decision analysis
This paper addresses the question: How can mining companies assess social investment projects so that projects create value for the company and communities in which they operate? Mining companies are still wrestling with the limits of their responsibility in relation to social development even though they accept the business case for community investment at a general level. Fully aware of the practical hazards involved in taking an active role in facilitating local development, companies increasingly avoid methods that are overly paternalistic or assume the functions of the national or local governments. Gaining senior management's commitment to long-term social projects, which are characterised by uncertainty and complexity, is made easier if projects are shown to benefit the site's strategic goals. Case study research on large global mining companies, including interviews with social investment decision makers, has assisted in developing a Social Investment Decision Analysis Tool (SIDAT), a decision model for evaluating social projects. Multi-criteria decision analysis techniques integrating business planning processes with social impact assessment have proved useful in assisting mining companies think beyond seeking reputational benefits, to how they can meet their business goals and contribute to sustainable development.
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