In the general field of national and international press as well as public policy, the issue of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is considered mainly a concern of large firms, and particularly in the case of the mining sector, it usually aims at large-scale mining companies on account of their size and the high impact their activities may cause. However, the fact that artisanal and small-scale mining organizations can access schemes such as the Fairmined Standard to become repsponsible entrepreneurs, offers a valuable outlet which supports the implementation of better practices and more accountable relationships with their customers, employees, communities and, of course, with the environment.
Through this kind of initiatives, the view that CSR is an issue only for large companies can begin to change, and the public opinion might finally realize that, on the contrary, this is actually a very practical concept in mining micro-enterprises. They serve also as a model for other sector’s small businesses in the understanding that they should not merely concentrate its resources and efforts in the growth of their business, but should commit and be able to operate under a multidimensional approach that takes into account local development and set an example from which governments can start upgrading the conditions in which small businesses and enterprises operate. This could also help to change the fact that, many times, for their differences with the dominant economic sectors, small enterprises are not recognized as important social actors, and thus, have difficulties generating positive transformations in their contexts.
Bernardo Kliksberg, despite not being an expert on CSR, in Chapter 19 of his book “How to Fight Poverty and Inequality”, successfully lists some of the basic elements of CSR which, being analyzed, show that if an artisanal or small-scale mining organization becomes certified under the Fairmined Standard its actions would be effectively framed within a CSR focus.
The principles that the author proposes are: in the chapter on working conditions, which seeks that workers carry out their activities with dignity and in an environment of respect for their rights, the first principle is to establish personnel policies that respect their rights and encourage their development. The second is transparency and good corporate governance, being intended that the mining organization must be transparent with stakeholders in the supply chain. The Premium offered by the Fairmined Standard may be mentioned here presented as a market incentive that intends to promote good governance. The third principle is to maintain the relationships with the consumers within the rules of fair play. Meeting the requirements of the Fairmined Standard implies a commitment from mining companies to their customers to provide a traceable metal. Environmental protection, the fourth principle, implies that miners must meet certain conditions in the management of toxic substances and the protection of ecosystems, assuming a role where they realize that the best way to manage resources is trying to progressively minimize impacts and risks of their activity.
Integration with major social issues is the fifth and last of the principles, it refers to the fact that there are responsibilities in time that the company must acknowledge related to its mining area and its surrounding community; here must be mentioned the responsibility that ASM mining companies acquire in promoting the participation of different actors of the production system in the use of the Premium, allowing that, even if a small mining company cannot and should not take the role of the State in this matters, it can at least provide some input in the construction of local development where their miners and families live.