Dalupan - Mining and Sustainable Development

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Transparency and Accountability

Policy, Legal and Contractual Framework

Sector Organization and Institutions

Fiscal Design and Administration

Revenue Management and Distribution

Sustainable Development

Dalupan, M.C., Mining and Sustainable Development: Insights from International Law, inInternational and Comparative Mineral Law and Policy, Trends and Prospects, Bastida, E., Wälde, T., Warden-Fernandez, J., eds., (Netherlands, Kluwer Law International, 2005)


This paper analyses the state and treatment of mining in international conventions, with emphasis on the growing body of multilateral environmental agreements. It then explores the challenges that the recognised and emerging principles of sustainable development pose for the mining sector and the development of international mining law.

As globalisation takes shape and changes emerge within the international sphere, so also do the traditional notions of sovereignty and the right of a State to exploit its own mineral resources change propelled by challenges to adapt to the integrated globe. More and more qualifications to the extent of the States right to exploit have given rise to a number of multilateral and non-governmental agencies backed by soft-law principles all who tout the importance of ‘sustainable development.’ It is on this backdrop that the author seeks to understand the growing need for a world-wide mining principle where at its core lie internationally accepted standards of social and environmental awareness.

The author first analyses the factors that drove the nature and lack of a comprehensive legal Mining  instruments within multilateral agreements, coupled with a brief overview of the emergence and growing body of international treaties covering broad environmental principles. According to the author, historically, there has been little attention paid by international legal regimes to that of Minerals largely because of factors specific to the sector; a major one of which is the fact that Mining activities are largely conducted within a specific geographic location with little cross-boundary implications. The author does, however, recognise that a broader view of multilateral agreements yield significant implications for the global Mining industry, and takes an in-depth look as some of the major ones.

Furthermore the paper takes a comprehensive approach to the principles of sustainability with respect to Mining, by looking at the challenges they pose for Mining operations, their relevance and their application on a global scale. The increased awareness of sustainability according to the author has led to initiatives to develop indicators espoused by industry, international bodies, governments, NGO’s and financial institutions, which all reveal a sector attempting to redefine itself in the context of sustainable development. 

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