Sustainable Mining in China

Sustainability in the Chiense outward mining industry

Chinese investments in overseas mining projects have soared over the past decade. Since China has adopted its “Going Out” strategy, Chinese mining companies have entered the global scramble for extractive resources with astonishing speed and changed fundamentally the global allocation of extractive resources. While enjoying the fast growth, Chinese mining companies are also facing challenges from social, environmental and ethical aspects of the mining industry globally.

It is against this backdrop that the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters (CCCMC) as part of an initiative of the Emerging Market Multinationals (EMM) Network has developed the ‘Guidelines for Social Responsibility in Chinese Outbound Mining Investments‘.

CCCMC counts more than 6000 enterprises as its members covering wide range of industries such as metals, minerals, coal, construction materials, hardware, oil and chemicals.

Launched in 2014, the ‘Guidelines for Social Responsibility in Chinese Outbound Mining Investments‘ represent the first industry specific guidance on social responsibility for the Chinese mining industry and are structured along eight social responsibility issues. CCCMC, in close cooperation with the OECD, also developed the ‘Chinese Due Diligence Guidelines for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains‘ in 2015.

These Guidelines provide guidance for Chinese mining companies to integrate social and environmental factors into their investment decision making and operations abroad and to continuously improve their economic, social and environmental performance.

With support of GIZ, EMM Network and CCCMC developed a three-year action plan (Sustainable Mining Action Plan, SMAP) to globally establish the guidelines and to achieve a maximum impact in the mining sector, by ensuring a structured and coordinated implementation.

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) supports the implementation of SMAP through a co-financed cooperation with Emerging Market Sustainability Dialogues (EMSD). The implementation of SMAP is included in the ‘MoU on Sustainable Development‘ signed by the Chinese and British governments.


Since the release of the Guidelines, many important partners (World Bank, IFC, DFID, OECD, etc) expressed their interest to support their implementation in a sector approach.

The Guidelines explicitly reference several key international standards, including the ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility, the United Nations (UN) Global Compact, Equator Principles, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The implementation of SMAP takes a comprehensive approach incorporating a complementary and mutually reinforcing set of eight working modules. It is guided, in general terms, by the theory of change as captured in a log frame.

In order to support Chinese mining companies in improving their CSR performance, it is essential to evaluate the current performance as a benchmark (baseline assessment), develop tools to implement the guidelines in the chosen pilot projects in four key regions (Africa, Latin America, Southeast and Central Asia)and provide training during field trips on both awareness raising and capacity building.

The implementation of the project is carried out by the Project Management Unit (PMU) and overseen by a Strategic Oversight Committee (SOC) comprising representatives from Ministry of Commerce (MofCom), DFID, GIZ and CCCMC. An Expert Advisory Committee (EAC) will also provide independent technical advice and guidance on the implementation and help to ensure that the program is well linked with other international and domestic initiatives.

The goal of SMAP is to promote sustainable development in China’s outbound mining investment. Effective implementation of the Guidelines will result in improved development outcomes in host countries as well as companies performance, such as:

  • Improved CSR awareness and due diligence capacity
  • More and higher quality jobs in poor communities
  • Reduced environmental and social impacts
  • Transparency and fair operation
  • Increased government revenues

The implementation of SMAP will be monitored and evaluated using indicators that were set out in the Result Matrix.

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