HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are all major causes of mortality and disability. It’s estimated that some 37 million people live with HIV and 11 million people live with tuberculosis. And in 2015 about 214 million cases of malaria occurred around the world, causing the death of 472,000. Mining and metals operations are often located in or near to areas where these diseases are rife meaning that industry can have a role to play in combatting them.
In certain geographies, the mining and metals industry has particularly significant exposure to HIV/AIDS in its workforce.
Responsible companies recognise that their activities have the potential to impact the health of the communities in which they operate, and vice versa. They are also aware of their obligation to manage all potential impacts of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria effectively. Many mining companies, including several ICMM members, are already making significant progress in addressing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the workplace.
Beyond being the right thing to do in societal terms, a proactive approach to the management of these communicable diseases can have a positive impact on the financial performance of the company too. In fact, extensive quantitative and qualitative data suggest that companies working to address HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the workplace experience a variety of direct and indirect benefits.
These benefits include:
- lower rates of employee turnover
- reduced employer liability
- improved profitability, due to increased productivity and decreased costs of health care
- workforce diversity reflecting a range of age groups, sexes, talents and skills
- improved employee morale
- access to international funding for mine development
- company reputation and secured social licence to operate.
ICMM promotes sharing of good practice across the sector to maximise the benefits of interventions to society. Published in August 2008, ICMM’s Good practice guidance on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria outlines and advocates an integrated approach to the three diseases, and is aligned with leading practice from international bodies, other industry sectors and ICMM members.
Mining and metals operations can also be affected by other infectious diseases – for example, the 2014 outbreak of Ebola (predominantly, Western Africa) and the outbreak of Zika in multiple regions in 2015/2016 could also potentially have an impact on the safety of personnel and their families travelling in and out of vulnerable areas. ICMM continues to monitor how we can best support the mining and metals industry in combatting these and other infectious diseases.