Environmental and human rights impacts of Canadian mining firms operating abroad were the subject of recommendations by a University of Guelph professor to the House of Commons standing committee on international trade this month.  

Dr. Rumina Dhalla
Dr. Rumina Dhalla

A professor in the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, and director of the Guelph Institute for Sustainable Commerce, Dr. Rumina Dhalla provided recommendations on Indigenous rights, women in mining, children and supply chains. 

“Mining is a male-dominated industry, and women account for less than 15 per cent of mining leadership positions globally,” said Dhalla. “Recent studies show that in Canada, less than a quarter of board members in mining companies are women. 

“Women that do work in mining are generally lower-paid and occupy less valued roles, and in some places, there are limited grievance mechanisms in place or they need to be filed by a male family member.” 

Dhalla’s recommendations for the committee and the Canadian mining industry included ensuring that Canadian firms operate abroad in the same way and under the same regulatory laws as in Canada.   

She stressed that firms must be proactive in ensuring integration of their environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) strategy in all their operations worldwide.   

“This ESG strategy must be authentic. Anything less will likely signal greenwashing,” said Dhalla. 

She said firms need to consider the impact of their operations on Indigenous communities.  

“The global mining sector has been linked to the use of lethal force or targeted violence of Indigenous communities,” said Dhalla. “Additionally, the indiscriminate use of water required for mining operations can lead to water shortages for these communities.”