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Social Progress in Mining-Dependent Countries: Analysing the Role of Resource Governance in Delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals

14 July 2021

Building on previous ICMM research, this report finds that life in mining-dependent countries (MDCs) has improved significantly in the last 23 years. The report analyses 41 social metrics grouped under 12 relevant United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and finds that across three-quarters of these metrics, there has been significant progress made on socio-economic development.

  • Looking at analysis of 41 selected social-economic metrics including neo-natal mortality, adult literacy, and access to electricity amongst others, findings show good progress across three quarters, with the greatest progress made in health and well-being, access to quality education, clean water, sanitation and more affordable and clean energy.
  • The biggest relative improvements were made in Bolivia, Botswana, Indonesia, Ghana, and Peru.
  • Most mining-dependent countries continue to close the socio-economic performance gap with non-resource-dependent countries. This represents a counterpoint to the ‘resource curse’ – a widely held perception that mining is likely to impede the economic and social progress of host populations. 
  • However, governance matters. The research strongly suggests that the higher the quality of governance, the stronger the socio-economic progress observed. It also confirms that social progress tends to have long gestation periods, with a clear time lag between the designing of a policy, implementation, and resulting development outcomes.
  • Having mining regulations and frameworks is an insufficient condition for good socio-economic outcomes – effective implementation is key. While many mining-dependent countries have invested time and effort in adopting clear and modern legislative frameworks, actual implementation is proving more challenging.
  • A stable enabling environment has the strongest positive relationship with good socio-economic outcomes. Countries that are more peaceful, have lower levels of corruption, and a vocal and active civil society with sufficient civic space are better able to translate natural resources into social progress.