Governance refers to the legal and institutional environment in which various actors in the mineral sector interact. Lessons from Africa, and elsewhere, indicate that strong transparent and participatory governance processes, at all levels, can assist mineral-rich countries attain sustainable economic growth and socio-economic development. Public participation legitimizes a project, thus reducing the costs emanating from the social tensions that can result from an externally-imposed project
Generally, there has been a trend towards improved multi-stakeholder interactions with greater stakeholder engagement in policy making and decisions related to mineral development, as a whole. However, challenges remain. For a start, public participation processes are not entrenched. Governments for example, see policy making as their prerogative while between mining companies and communities; there is an asymmetry in power relations. This asymmetry is exacerbated by a general lack of capacity and material resources, especially for weak vulnerable groups. Often, there is also a mismatch between the expression of public participation rights in formal instruments and their implementation. Inadequate participatory approaches may ;lead to conflict by dissatisfied communities around mining projects.
The exploitation of minerals has been associated with the violation of human rights. This is one of the most prominent issues raised by mining-affected communities and civil society organizations working on mining issues. Respect for human rights by companies is an important part of their social licence to operate, but the scope of the obligations imposed on them by international human rights law is limited and contentious, even as it is widely recognized that with the growth of global power and reach of corporations, domestic regulation is inadequate to protect human rights from corporate infractions.
NOTE: Some information on this page are from the African Mineral Vision thought starter document 2011.