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Corporate social responsibility and the case of Summitville mine



A growing literature is developing parallel to increasing "voice of society" concerns about corporate social and environmental responsibility. Emerging research suggests that, while public policy might provide the framework for the internalisation of previous external environmental damage costs, it is corporate strategy that can make the difference between environmental disaster and pollution prevention, and responsible business practice is defined by its anticipative and pro-active approach to ensuring that pollution is prevented and mine closure is accompanied by clean-up and reclamation. The Summitville gold mine, an abandoned open pit and underground operation in Colorado is often described as an "environmental disaster" and one of the most notorious example of inadequate design, poor operation and failed environmental management at a mining operation in the US, past or present. Now a Superfund site, and the subject of numerous legal suits and counter-suits, its unplanned and sudden closure and abandonment in December 1992 has had profound implications for environmental protection, the costs and benefits of remedial treatment, technology issues and the regulatory process in both the USA and globally. Of great import are the factors that influenced the development of events at Summitville, and these are discussed in two broad areas: corporate strategy during the development and operation of the site; and, the regulatory framework within which the mine was permitted, operated and abandoned. Finally, the implications or the abandonment of Summitville mine for the wider mining industry, regulatory authorities and the policy literature in this field, are discussed. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved

Topics: GE
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