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Key-note address to the Sustainable Development Session of the Mining Indaba

By Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, Executive Director of Historic Schools Project, Founder and President of African Monitor.


Honourable guests and dignitaries, I thank you for the opportunity to address you at the start of this very important session of the Mining Indaba. I am encouraged that the issue of sustainability has been considered in some of the sessions. This is a sign that the industry is starting to address sustainability as a matter of importance, a development that is warmly welcomed. However, mining activity has far-reaching implications for not only our own generation, but for future generations. Because of this, we can never afford to rest on our laurels and say that we are doing enough to ensure the sustainable development of all stakeholders in this critical industry.

As the introduction made clear, I am first and foremost a priest of the Christian faith. I therefore approach the issue of sustainability from the perspective of a moral theologian, and provide a voice that is infrequently heard in the corridors of the mining industry. A moral perspective is crucial to our discussion of sustainability, since it provides a framework in terms of which ethical decisions can be made. Sadly, questions of morality are seldom considered when decisions are made. This is, of course, nothing new. The Crusades of the Middle Ages and the colonial empires of the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries are just two examples of far-reaching actions that history and time have shown to be profoundly a-moral in essence. In our modern world, moral voices are all too often lost by those who run our business empires in the intensity of profit-seeking on behalf of investors and shareholders.

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