Corporate social responsibility, risk and development in the mining industry

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In this article I examine how metals mining companies understand and act upon CSR as risk management and the consequences for community CSR projects. I begin by exploring the literature on CSR and development in the mining industry, motives for CSR engagement in the industry, and risk and risk management. I then draw on my research data to map how CSR programmes are seen as an important method of managing strategic challenges to firms —categorised here as reputational, operational or regulatory ‘risks’—and note how competition for capital and recent changes in the legal environment have furthered this process. A focus on CSR as risk management can illuminate the poor development outcomes of community CSR projects, despite recent rises in spending. ‘CSR as risk management’ introduces immanent limitations including treating CSR as PR, targeting those that pose the greatest threat rather than those with the greatest need, excessively simplifying complex processes and focussing on maintaining the status quo. In risk management thinking, CSR activities may be a high organisational priority, integrated into central decision-making processes and subject to a great deal of investment, but still see little progress towards inclusive development for those living closest to mining operations. I conclude by reflecting on what this means for future action and research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-505
Number of pages10
JournalResources Policy
Early online date13 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Accountability
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Development
  • Mining
  • Risk

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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