Light at the End of the Tunnel: Mining Justice and Health

Farah M. Shroff*

Light at the End of the Tunnel: Mining Justice and Health. The mining industry provides commodities and financial support for communities. The mining industry provides valuable mined commodities and financial support for communities worldwide. Mining has become safer for workers. Significant injustices, however, are created by mining companies for workers, local communities and the environment.
Mining workers are amongst the world’s most vulnerable because of the dangerous nature of their work, inherent health risks, and problematic, neo-colonial ways in which the industry is governed. Given the scope of these problems, solutions are often challenging, yet this article proposes various responses to global mining inequities.  Here, solutions to some problems caused by mining are examined, with a focus on workers’ health and human rights through unions and cooperatives, targeted programs for improving mental well-being, the feminization of the mining workforce; the possibility of reducing demand for mining products through reuse and reducing consumption. Ameliorating mining governance is key, through enhanced implementation of human rights, safety, and labor,
standers specially applying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to mining issues; mining justice
organizations play a vital, role, particularly in accountability and publicity of mining issues. Canada is spotlighted here as it houses approximately 75% of mining company headquarters, primarily due to favorable tax and investment conditions and the concentration of skilled labor.
Greater unionization and cooperativization of mining workers hold great promise for improving health and safety conditions of miners. Feminizing the mining workforce promises to improve both productivity and profits. While mental health is often ignored, Australia’s Mates in Mining program has improved mental well-being and reduced depression and suicide amongst mining workers. Expansion of such programs worldwide would positively impact workers, their families, and improve productivity.

Public Health Open J. 2019; 4(2): 44-51. doi: 10.17140/PHOJ-4-133