Continuing our investigation into working conditions within the industry, ICoCA consultant Jael Amara and her team conducted fresh country research in Tanzania, Ghana and Madagascar, with a specific focus on the mining sector. On 22 May 2024, she unveiled preliminary findings during a main event panel at the OECD Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains, emphasising the harsh working conditions faced by private security guards in the sector. These conditions carry consequences for personnel’s mental and physical health, relationships, performance and life outside of work.

But Jael also highlighted a best practice case for community engagement in the industry. One example is ICoCA’s case study of the AngloGold Ashanti Geita Gold Mine in Tanzania, a great example of an innovative, integrated security collaboration model. This model involves community policing, local law enforcement, in-house security and private security services provided by an ICoCA Certified Member. The collaboration not only ensures the security of the mining operations but also benefits the surrounding communities.

The discussion also emphasised the critical role of trade unions. Although often side-lined from discussions, unions are key stakeholders whose involvement is crucial in shaping the dialogue surrounding working conditions within the private security sector. Labour, rarely considered a risk, should be. The session also underscored the importance for extractive companies to follow the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the critical role community engagement plays in this.

Key takeaways for mining companies from the CSO perspective:

  1. Monitor the impact of your security;
  2. No news doesn’t necessarily mean good news – mines are often isolated, out of sight and out of mind, bad things can happen without news getting out;
  3. Don’t read too much into ESG ratings, use with caution;
  4. Do better to blend into the local context;
  5. Use context specific solutions;
  6. Engagement between Artisanal Small-scale Mining (ASM) and Small-Scale Mining (SSM) is key.

During the Forum, ICoCA Executive Director Jamie Williamson also presented on a panel: “View from the trading desk – bringing the mine site into the frame”, organised by the Institute for Human Rights and Business and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.