Engaging with communities

A priority for mining companies is to ensure a positive contribution to poverty reduction and sustainable development at a community level.

Coal provides a significant direct contribution to economic development at a local level, particularly in developing countries. Coal is currently mined in over 50 countries, and worldwide the industry directly employs some seven million people. Much of the coal industry in developing countries is export oriented. It is a major source of foreign hard currency earnings, as well as saving import costs.

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  • Investing in people
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Photo: PT Adaro Indonesia

Community development programmes

Community development is the process of increasing the strength and effectiveness of communities, improving people’s quality of life, and enabling people to participate in decision making to achieve greater long-term control over their lives. Sustainable community development programmes are those that contribute to the long-term strengthening of community viability. Often the most sustainable beneficial legacies that community development programmes may have are in the skills and capacities that training, employment and education programmes for local people provide.


Supporting the wider community

Large scale mines are often the biggest source of income for rural communities. Employment provided by coal mining does not only benefit the men and women employed at the mine and their families. These jobs support the wider community when the employees’ income is spent on goods and services. Coal mining often occurs in rural and remote areas requiring significant infrastructure development - particularly the development of transportation links such as road and rail. Mining often brings increases in other infrastructure services such as electricity, water and communications. Improved infrastructure due to mining activity can also support broader economic development within the region.

Investing in people

Mining operations also bring revenues to governments. Companies pay taxes at both the local and national levels and can contribute royalties which help governments fund other services, such as health, education, welfare and security. Many companies also look to invest in the communities within which they operate - well beyond the needs of their mining operations. There are many examples of coal mining companies making sizeable investments in health and education services in their local communities. Education and skill development programmes are an essential component in most major coal operations and the cost of schools is often paid in whole or in part by the local mine. Improving the education and skill levels of the local community helps to attract further investment and thereby sustains the community after mine closure.

Some coal companies operate in areas facing severe challenges, where they have become closely involved in local projects aimed at overcoming them. In South Africa, for example, HIV/AIDS is having a major impact on public health and poses a significant threat to labour productivity and sustainable economic development. Coal producers in South Africa actively engage in the fight against HIV/AIDS - this includes actions not only in the workforce but also in the wider community (see case study below).

Further information

WCA Sustainable Mining Policy Statement

Anglo American HIV/AIDS Programme

PT Adaro Making Water Work

Anglo American eMalahleni Water Reclamation Plant

Coal - Energy for Sustainable Development