The Chief Executive of one of the world’s largest mining companies likes to remind me that minerals are needed for 45% of the global economy but are sourced from less than 0.5% of the earth’s surface.
Many of the things millions of consumers take for granted in society such as iron for construction, platinum for clean exhaust emissions, cobalt for batteries, coltan in phones or diamond jewellery are dug out of the ground. These mines are often situated close to local communities.
The vision of some companies to connect and integrate their objectives with the needs of local people for sustainability is one of the compelling reasons for the Mining Faiths Reflection Initiative (MFRI). MFRI supports dialogue between churches and mining companies, articulates the Common Good and seeks genuine change in mining.
Days of Reflection for Mining, Community and Church Leaders have been held at the Vatican and Lambeth Palace. The next one is planned for October 2020 in London.
Regional MFRI initiatives have been successful notably in the Mogalakwena area of Limpopo in South Africa. A workshop for dialogue at a national level will be held in Peru later this month.
A blueprint for Mine Chaplaincy has been drawn up with the help of the University of Exeter to give confidence to mining operators and local churches in setting up this ministry. This year a framework for Mining and the Common Good will be piloted to give local communities and companies tools to engage in dialogue and action so that all stakeholders in this essential industry can move towards long term sustainability.
Two wider related areas led by the Church of England are the Transition Pathways Initiative on Climate Change for Investors, and the Global Tailings Storage Facilities Protocol (following the fatal collapse of a dam at Brumadinho in Brazil).
I trust that we will increase our awareness and appreciation of the inter-connectedness of the world and the good and bad consequences of our consumption for those who work in and live near mines.
Give thanks that people of faith are still called to play their part in this complex adventure.