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Avoid Involuntary Relocation

Mining companies cannot freely choose the site of a project as the location of metal and mineral reserves that are economically feasible to mine are fixed.

When a mine is to be established close to an existing community, it can unfortunately necessitate the relocation of people. This can only be done with the explicit approval of national or local government, but it nonetheless presents significant risks to those affected and the company involved.

Resettlement is a high impact endeavour. When companies manage resettlement well, they can make a significant contribution to development in the areas surrounding their projects. However, if resettlement is not managed properly, the social and economic impacts on communities can be significant and far-reaching, and companies can face disruption of the project, and run legal or reputational risks.

Every effort needs to be made to minimise the likelihood of company activities causing the resettlement of people from their land and/or causing the loss of or reduction in livelihoods. Undertaking resettlement on any scale therefore needs to be managed as a significant project in itself, with the requisite resources to manage a highly complex process.

What Is the Difference Between Voluntary and Involuntary Resettlement?

Resettlement can be classified as either voluntary or involuntary, and may be either physical or economic. Resettlement is voluntary when resettled households have the choice to move. When the voluntary nature of resettlement cannot be confirmed, resettlement should be treated as involuntary. This includes cases where a company has the legal right to take away land.

Strengthening Operational Capacity

ICMM company members commit to either avoid or minimise involuntary resettlement. If it is unavoidable, they undertake to manage the process responsibly and in line with international standards and to compensate fairly for adverse effects on the community.

In 2015, ICMM published Land Acquisition and Resettlement: Lessons learned which distils insights gained from 41 projects from around the world, in the mining sector and others. It offers practical guidance on how resettlement can be done well; achieved through planning, engaging with stakeholders, compensating for loss of land and restoring livelihoods, addressing the needs of vulnerable people and monitoring impacts.