Report on Corporate Responsibilities

                                                            Title: Report on corporate responsibilities

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Corporate responsibility is an indispensable element of the entire seven corporate social responsibility principal subjects. Corporate governance is important as it is the primary determinant in realizing accountability for the effects of the outcomes of the companies’ strategies and policies. Corporate responsibility ensures effectiveness in integrating social responsibility in an organization. This is largely through consultations that ensure that both the community and the organization play their part. It also creates a healthy relationship between the organization and the community.

Corporate responsibility in mining companies in South Africa concerns actions taken by the mining companies to better the lives of the people around them or to minimize the negative impacts made during their mining process.  It should be noted that this actions are taken by the companies so as to be at par with the law but nonetheless, these actions are beyond obligations created by the law, license requirements or contractual relationships.

Most of the corporate responsibility programs invest in the basic needs of the society surrounding the company or industry involved. For instance, they a mining company may choose to invest in portable water or medical equipment. Key issues of corporate responsibility in mining sector-South Africa Corporate responsibility can take different directions and roles dictated by the particular needs of a community. For instance, Chinese would consider a socially responsible company as that company that manufacture products of high quality. Germans would be mostly being interested with a company that ensures secure employment.

On the other hand, a company would need to improve the lives of the South Africans to be regarded as a social responsible company. Thus, it would need to concern itself with social needs such as health care and education. (Busacca, M, 2013,pg13).


 Key issues surrounding corporate responsibility in South Africa.

In South Africa, there are a number of key issues surrounding corporate responsibility and which will be identified below. While mining contribute to the economy by providing employment, export revenue and infrastructure development in south Africa, it has had a negative impact on the people of that country thus creating the need for corporate responsibility by the mining companies. (Busacca, M, 2013, pg13).

The mining industry has impacted negatively on land use, disruption of rivers, degradation of forest and land and creating disturbance on the traditional lifestyle of the South African people. Historically speaking, the mining industry in South Africa was run by non South Africans. They were only after profits and cared less about corporate responsibility. Mining industry is said to be the root cause of efforts to redress the dire results of apartheid rule. (Busacca, M, 2013,pg25).

The South African Constitution obligates the state to protect its citizen’s socio-economic rights. It has therefor  became necessary for the mining companies to mind about peoples  rights to housing, clean water and a safe and a healthy environment among other rights. To a big extent, corporate responsibility in South Africa has now become a mandatory as opposed to a voluntary program.

It has now become the business of the local government to ensure that mining companies remain responsible and accountable.  Chapter seven of the Constitution of South Africa safeguards social and economic development that promotes service provision in a sustainable manner. Of great concern in the provisions of the constitution are a safe and a healthy environment.( Mabuza,pg2)

Corporate responsibility in the mining industry in South Africa has greatly been witnessed due to a number of factors. Among them is the understanding that the government has had on the delicacy of the mining business due to its unsustainability. As a result, there has been a public-private partnership and an understanding that corporate responsibility may contribute greatly on the uplifting of people and communities that have historically been neglected.( Kloppers and duPlessis, pg93).

As a result, there have been a lot of consultations by the mining companies with the people concerning the impact of the mining business on the environment and on their lives. The interests of the community have now begun to feature in the strategies and plans of the mining companies. This is contrary to what was happening in historic times. It is worth noting that currently, the mining industry, as compared to other industries, is taking the lead in corporate initiatives considering the inherent unsustainability of mining activity.


Best practice in South Africa’s mining industry.

What seems to be the best practice in the mining industry of South Africa is the nature of consultation they engage with other stakeholders including the community. History has it that mining was one of the worst forms of business in South Africa when it was greatly dominated by non-south Africans. Initially, companies failed to integrate corporate responsibility to their mining business plans.

Surprisingly, this approach of the mining business has ceased and what we see in South Africa is a high level of corporate responsibility involving a lot of consultations. This has led to the mining industry leading the other industries in advocating for corporate responsibility. Consultations conducted by the stakeholders expresses due diligence and in the mining industry. By consulting about the impact their activities would have on the environment and on the lives of the community, clearly a sense of due diligence and responsibility is there. These consultations also show that the mining industry is no only after profit making but also concerned about the lives of the people affected by their mining activities.

In reference to ethical theory, ethics could come in handy when decisions ought to be made.  For instance, a mining company would have to consider making tough decisions when it wants to extract minerals from a certain region. It has to consider whether this would be damaging to someone or to some group of people after which it would make a decision.

This decision would involve a choice between a good and bad. Also, the decision may involve perhaps choosing between two “goods” or between two “bads”. (Santa Clara University, 2009). Ethical theory also suggests in additional to the above, that the decision maker must also establish whether the issue at hand about more of what is legal or what is most efficient.

After establishing this, the decision maker should access the facts in the situation noting those facts that are not known. The available facts should be accessed to determine whether the available facts are sufficient to make a decision. The individuals affected by the outcome of the decision should be considered.  In addition to that, it is also important to determine whether or not all the persons concerned have been consulted. This in a nutshell, ethical theory calls for all the above things being considered. The mining industry in South Africa can be said to have operated within ethical theory by considering a number of issues in their mining business.



Even though South Africa has made progress in adhering to the legislations governing corporate responsibility, the government is not doing much as far as legal enforcement is concerned. A report by dialogue revealed that ten percent of the south Africans companies cited  acting in accordance with the regulations set in place as on of the reasons behind their following the regulations. The other companies cited moral obligations and safeguarding their public image as the reason behind their engagement in corporate responsibility.

 As this may be seen as a good thing, mining companies should first know what the law stipulates or requires them to do in matters of corporate responsibility before anything else. This will guarantee adherence to procedures that apply to corporate responsibility. For instance, a company ought to understand that it owes the community a duty of care and hence such things as consulting the public and conducting environmental impact assessment would be among their priorities before engaging in any project.

Apart from these companies being motivated by their public standing, they ought also to be guided and inspired to do the same by the set regulations.The mining companies must be able to have a mind set of corporate responsibility being an attribution of ethical responsibility which imposes on them the duty to be accountable for their own commissions or omissions. Mining companies must also access the consequences of their actions not only from their own perspective but also from the perspective of others. They should consider the moral reasons behind every action they undertake as opposed to only considering what they have done without paying attention to the morality issues.

Mining companies should approach corporate responsibility with a clear understanding that the responsibility imposed on them further demands accountability. This accountability is however owed to the society and thus suggests that there must be inclusion of others who in this case is the society. Thus, their actions should be subject to the demands of interpersonal relationship and open to scrutiny by the society. The mining companies should therefor be open to the public by making sure that they maintain disclosure of information and accept supervision by those who have been mandated to do so.

Further, the mining companies should give what is due to the community. Corporate responsibilities give rise to legal rights to members of the public who may feel that the companies have failed in their responsibilities. In such circumstances, the injured party may claim for damages or compensations by the company involved.

Therefore, mining companies should learn to see corporate responsibility as a legal obligation created by way of a social contract rather than seeing it as passing favors to the community. When they are called upon to compensate people who have suffered harm due to their commissions or omissions, they should show cooperation.

There are no clear or mutual components of corporate responsibility programs in every mining company in South Africa. Each miming company designs its own programs in accordance with the evaluated needs of the community and which are as a result of the mining project.  Mostly, companies use a trial and error method to arrive at the desired corporate responsibility program. Nonetheless, it is evident that most programs focus on three major areas namely: economic, social and environmental factors.

For a successful mining business in South Africa, mining companies must understand the important role the society plays in which may determine their success. Corporate responsibility cannot be effective without incorporating social responsibility in it. The term “social” used together with ‘responsibility’ can be said to bring out three meanings: firs is  as a reaction to the  legitimate claims and expectations of society at large, provided that  these expectations are specific and have a bearing in a  source of the obligation which is to be seen as an obligation owed to the society.

Corporate responsibility creates an impression of a responsibility that is not purely ethical but a responsibility with social elements. (Argandoña, A, 2006, pg4). This therefore means that the mining companies are not to operate solely on their judgments or discretion but has to acknowledge the fact that there are societal expectations and demands from the companies. The companies should therefore take the society as one of the critical external players who must influence their behaviors.

There have been claims of 'greenwashing’ by most of the mining companies. They have invested a lot of money in trying to create an impression that they are caring about the environment while in real sense very little is being done. In South Africa there has been a lot of pressure on the mining companies coming from the society. Much of this pressure has been inspired by the apartheid regime which saw the mining industry being controlled by the white non- South Africans. Due to this, there have been a lot of reports being made by the mining companies claiming to be active in corporate responsibility. It is worth to mention that according report says that black ownership and control and safeguarding the environment were among the eight areas of focus by the mining companies while strategizing for corporate responsibility programs.  (Trialogue report, 2005)

Incorporating black ownership and control in the mining industry suggests that these companies go for priorities which they think might calm reactions from the society. The mining companies should therefore be practical rather than claiming they are being responsible while very little has been done compared to what is written and claimed to have been done.

The companies should also update themselves with the existing laws governing corporate responsibility. Respect for those regulations will promote smooth co-existence with both the community and the competent authorities. For instance, respect for environmental laws should be ensured at all times. This duty to obey the law includes abiding by the rules and being accountable. They should be aware that the duty to obey the law is entails obedience of both civil and criminal laws.

Mining companies in South Africa should Increase funds for purposes of social development. These funds should be used to improve conditions of lives of the members of the community. Corporate responsibilities also entail other important activities other than just safeguarding the environment.  They should therefore step in to provide other important services such as supporting medical service providers and improving the infrastructure of the surrounding areas of their area of operation. They should also add into the premiums and donations that the mining companies are required of mining companies for purposes of environmental safeguards. 

 Further, these companies should form partnerships with other players in order to improve the process of environmental management. This is with respect to issues surrounding the whole process of mining. This includes how they dispose waste rocks and dispose acid rock drainage. Mining companies should also consider conducting environmental assessment before any mining is commenced. In doing this, they should assess the sustainability of their activities and the impact they will have on the environment as well as on the people.  It is important to mention that every activity has its own advantages and disadvantages and therefore when the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, these companies should not undertake in a mining process. In addition, even if the benefits are more than the negative impacts, they should assess the nature of the negative impacts to the people and environment.  This is because some impacts are irreversible and therefore it is not prudent for any well intending company to pursue a mission that would cause irreversible much damages in expense of the a few benefits believed to be realized in a mining mission.

Mining companies should also be in the lead in advocating for corporate responsibility. Mining is a very profitable business in South Africa contribution to 18.7% of the South African’s GDP.  The business has created job opportunities for about 13.5 million people. (Busacca, M, 2013,pg24). It should therefore be the industry setting a good example to the rest of the industries such as fisheries and agriculture. Fortunately, the industry has been doing well as far as corporate responsibility is concerned.



Mining is an integral part of the South Africa’s economy and the country cannot do without it. Nonetheless, it involves processes that expose living organisms and as well as human the environment to risks. This is by causing both air and water pollution which makes life intolerable to animals    as well as humans and hence risking survival. The activity also causes acquisition of land belonging to the people by the mining companies thus relocating those people contrary to their will and wishes.  Some of this people are never satisfactorily compensated. However, mining is a necessary evil in South Africa because without it the country cannot stand economically. To reconcile its negative effects with its importance, a lot of corporate responsibility is needed.  Mining companies should therefore know how to deal with issues of environmental degradation and pollution. It is agreeable that at some point they may not be able to control some negative impacts caused during the mining process. Such impacts may include natural disasters caused by unnatural activities such as earthquakes. Some earth quakes are as a result of excessive mining which can always be avoid by reasonable approach to mining processes. Mining companies should therefore act with some degree of reasonability and with a mindful mentality.

 It is also important that mining companies stop viewing corporate responsibility as an optional activity to exercise through their discretionary powers. It should be a tradition that every company practice corporate responsibility.The government should also be active in investigating the level of responsibility displayed by the mining companies in South Africa. South Africa has enacted legislations to enforce corporate responsibility in the country and this could be one of the reasons why corporate responsibility has improved in the mining industry. Thus the role of good laws and enforcement of the same cannot be underestimated.

Collective responsibility is also a factor that should be acknowledged as having contributed to improving the level of corporate responsibility in South Africa’s mining industry. This is as results of the society taking an active role in the matter through making appeals that the companies take responsibility and be accountable for their acts of commissions and omissions



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Southern Africa: Fair accountability or just greenwash?


2.      Busacca,M(2013) Corporate Social Responsibility in South Africa's

Mining Industry: Redressing the Legacy of Apartheid.

Argandoña, A(2006) From Ethical Responsibility to Corporate Social Responsibility. 

Santa Clara University, (2009) Making an Ethical Decision. 

3.      Stark,J, Li,J and Terasawa,K (2006)Environmental Safeguards and Community Benefits in Mining: Recent Lessons from the Philippines. 

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5.      HEINECKEN, L., & PROZESKY, H. E. (2010). Society in focus - change, challenge and resistance reflections from South Africa and beyond. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, Cambridge Scholars Pub. 

6.      CAMPBELL, B. K. (2013). Modes of governance and revenue flows of African mining

7.      RAJAK, D. (2011). In Good Company an Anatomy of Corporate Social Responsibility. Palo Alto, Stanford University Press. 

8.      BASTIDA, E., WAELDE, T. W., & WARDEN-FERNA?NDEZ, J. (2005). International and comparative mineral law and policy: trends and prospects. The Hague, Kluwer Law International.

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10.  CROWTHER, D., & ARAS, G. (2013). The governance of risk. Bingley, U.K., Emerald Group.





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