Introduction > Addressing Impacts
Opportunities for involvement may include chances to: influence design decisions and operational
practices; learn how to prepare for future employment; set up agreements that address specific needs and
vulnerabilities; set up monitoring and reporting; and address issues associated with ensuring
that benefits last beyond the life of the mine.
Recognizing that the long-term success of a mine depends on achieving “net benefits” for the
local community, and on maintaining good relationships with communities and governments,
some mining companies go beyond the official requirements and work with
stakeholders to keep them informed and proactively involve them in decision-making.
Depending on company choices, community perspectives and on the nature of the regulatory
processes involved in a specific project, community involvement may be focused either
withing or outside the formal regulatory framework.
Public Meeting, Navajo County
International mining industry organizations have published several different guides for
maintaining effective and productive relationships between companies and communities,
governments and other stakeholders. The guides uniformly advocate engagement, including
involvement in decision-making throughout the life of the mine. Forums, focus groups, work
groups, websites, newsletters and many other techniques may be included in an engagement
strategy. Communities and companies sometimes choose to collaborate on topics such as:
workforce development, local sourcing and procurement, local business development, management
of companies’ social investment funds, and monitoring and reporting on environmental and socio-economic
In pursuit of good mining practices and open and transparent relationships between mining
companies and Arizona citizens, several groups and individuals formed
Arizona Mining Reform Coalition.
The mission of the Coalition is to ensure that responsible mining contributes to
healthy communities, a healthy environment, and, when all costs are factored in, is a net
benefit to Arizona.
If public processes become contentious, sometimes a “professional neutral” facilitator is brought
in to assist with negotiations, helping the parties reach agreement. Organizations such as the
Consensus Building Institute
US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution
and others provide those types of services.
federal level, the opportunities for public
involvement differ, and the range of issues addressed differs. Broadly, the types
of issues that may be in play are environmental, socio-economic and cultural and historic issues.
Regulatory processes vary greatly depending on features of individual mining projects. The
focus may be either at the federal or state level. Whereas other types of industrial projects
often involve county-level permitting processes, mines typically do not because they are
exempt by state law in Arizona. Consequently, official county-level permitting processes,
such as those involved in special use permits, aren’t a major focus of regulation for mines.
Depending on whether the focus is at the state or
City of Holbrook
If the project has significant federal impacts, as it would if it involves leases for exploration or mining
on BLM land, it triggers the National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the focus is at the federal level. A federal agency is
the lead agency, coordinating regulatory processes, and an Environmental Assessment (EA) is
completed. If the EA shows that further analysis is needed, an Environmental Impact Statement
(EIS) is completed.
The presence of the Petrified Forest National Park within the area doesn’t necessarily
indicate that there is a federal nexus for projects in the Holbrook Basin, rather it depends
on specific details of the project.
If a project doesn’t have a federal nexus, most permitting activities are coordinated at the
state level. For projects involving state trust land, the lead agency is likely to be the
Arizona State Land Department. The Office of the State Mine Inspector, Arizona Department of
Environmental Quality, Arizona Department of Water Resources, the State Historic Preservation
Office and possibly other agencies may be involved. Refer to the
Arizona Mining Permitting Guide
Environmental Permitting Requirements - Proposed Potash Mining in the Holbrook Basin.
For public lands, in addition to NEPA there are several other
federal and state laws that govern exploration and mining. Potash mining is a type of
softrock or solid mineral mining. It is considered a non-metal, industrial mineral. At the federal
level it is governed primarily by the
Mineral Leasing Act of 1920.
After the passage of the Mineral Leasing Act and associated amendments, potash was no longer included in the General
Mining Law of 1872, which governs mining of minerals such as copper, uranium, gold and
Indicators and reporting may be defined during the planning stage in collaboration with community
representatives. Environmental monitoring and reporting might address, for example: the water table;
water quality; subsidence (sinking of the land surface); seismic events and air quality (e.g.,
greenhouse gas emissions, dust and other air pollutants). To track monitoring results and review
changes over time, a community-based, multi-party monitoring board might be established. This can
help to ensure timely responses to problems and to preserve good-faith relationships between the
community and companies over the long-term, through transitions in management, company ownership
and changes in local area officials.
Monitoring and Reporting
As part of their corporate responsibility and sustainability
programs, some companies track and publish socio-economic and
environmental indicators in annual reports, often developed
according to guidelines of the
Global Reporting Initiative
Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES).
Large companies are naturally more likely to have well-developed
programs of this type, but the same principles pertain, regardless of the size
and formality of the program.
Main Street, St. Johns
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) requires reporting on
revenue payments to governments.
Agreements, Impact Benefit Agreements, Integrated Benefit Agreements,
Impact Compensation Contracts or Host Community Agreements.
Tribal members and others look forward with hope to jobs and other socio-economic benefits. Negotiating
agreements, especially during the planning stage, can help ensure that expectations are met and benefits
realized. Agreements often address socio-economic participation, local benefits, or long-term resource
management for special groups such as tribes. The agreements may be legally binding or depend only on
good faith. They are sometimes called Opportunities
Main Street, Snowflake
Sustainable development is a strong theme throughout the mining industry. Many of the concerns about
sustainability result from experiences with developing countries and indigenous communities, but they
are also relevant to developed countries, and to native communities in those countries. Sustainable
development practices address: the integration of economic, environmental and social considerations;
the public’s concerns over the industry’s ability to manage environmental impacts and ensure net
benefits to communities; and the need to take a “whole life of the mine” perspective.
Challenged by past practices and looking toward a better future, in 1998 ten international mining
companies established the
Global Mining Initiative (GMI).
The GMI identified a range of issues,
including waste disposal, environmental performance and benefits for communities. To address
the issues and needs of a broad range of stakeholders, the GMI started the
Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) project.
International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM),
was formed to implement the principles of the GMI.
Notably for local community concerns, the MMSD endorsed a variety of principles, including the principles
of subsidiary and best practices. The principle of subsidiary states that local issues should be solved
locally, and that decision-making should occur as close to the point of impact as possible. The concept
of best practices similarly has a local focus, stating that a frequent response to the question of best
practices is “it all depends.”
Environmental Permitting Requirements - Proposed Potash Mining in the Holbrook
Basin, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Information Sheet, December 2011.
Sustainable Development Framework by the International Council on Mining and Metals
Managing Risk and Maintaining License to Operate: Participatory Planning and
Monitoring in the Extractive Industries -- Concept Paper by the Oil, Gas, and Mining
Sustainable Communities Development Fund (CommDev)
Sustainability Reporting Guidelines by the Global Reporting Initiative
The 21st Century Corporation: CERES Roadmap for Sustainability