Meeting local community needs: the cases of iron ore mining in Sweden and South Africa
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This study compares contrasting models of how community concerns are addressed in two mining districts: in Sweden, a welfare state setting where social development concerns are the responsibility of the state, and South Africa, a developing country, where expectations are oriented towards companies taking on significant portions of such responsibilities. Both countries have in place strict environmental regulations for mining, and residents in both districts perceive environmental impacts as a company responsibility. However, whereas there is significant tolerance for environmental disturbances in Sweden, such sentiment is missing in South Africa. When it comes to community welfare, companies operating in South Africa feel obliged to undertake voluntary Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)-related efforts, yet are often met with criticism and distrust, whereas in Sweden, companies tend to be supported, despite not being directly involved in providing any significant welfare-related services. We argue that calls for mining companies to take on a greater responsibility for local communities can be problematic and must be evaluated with care: in welfare states, doing so may be at odds with existing and functioning societal models, whereas in other settings it may lead to unclear responsibilities for societal outcomes.
- Faculty of Humanities