Mopani copper: good practice in Zambia?

Friday, 1 August, 2014

A heart-warming bit of (reported) good practice for a Friday morning, as we learn via Zambia’s The Post  that Mopani Copper Mines has supposedly invested over US$200 million in various community projects since 2000.

Good practice on two levels - not just for the expenditure itself, but also for the disclosure thereof. (Less chartiable sources might add a thiurd: Mopani is 73% owned by Glencore, according to everyone's favourite oracle Wikipedia, and it's refreshing to see that company's name linked with positive things happening in communities). As far as disclosure is concerned, this is one of the main scoring factors by which we assessed companies when compiling our upcoming extractives CSR transparency index, which we’ll be launching in August, and it's something of which we're unequivocally in favour. Watch this space for the report.

Of course, expenditure doesn’t automatically mean results. Projects have to be well designed and implemented for those to come about. And further enhancing our impression of Mopani, in the article its PR manager Cephas Sinyangwe outlines Mopani’s investment in communities, detailing expenditure on projects including road building and water and sanitation infrastructure. Sinyangwe’s assessment: the mine “has made achievements in uplifting the living standards of people in communities surrounding the mine.” In his own words:

“In the area of education, we have constructed classrooms and improved sanitation apart from providing high quality education at four Mopani run schools. We have also refurbished health centres and are providing public health services, including malaria and HIV prevention activities. As you can see from the investment we are actually helping in areas such as infrastructure development in the area.”

It’s a light piece, and to be honest you don’t really need to read the original because we’ve just given you everything in it; but it’s encouraging as an example not only of a mine engaging with the needs of the community, which you’d hope was pretty basic stuff by now; but because of the public disclosure of the amount and purpose of that expenditure. Long may it continue.


IMAGE: mopani tree