, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 85–92 | Cite as

Corporate Social Responsibility in Mining in Southern Africa: Fair accountability or just greenwash?

  • Ralph Hamann
  • Paul Kapelus
Local/Global Encounters


Ralph Hamann and Paul Kapelus argue that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)-related narratives and practices can be fruitfully assessed with reference to accountability and fairness as key criteria. Brief case studies of mining in South Africa and Zambia suggest that there are still important gaps between mining companies’ CSR activities, on the one hand, and accountability and fairness, on the other. The conclusion is that companies’ CSR-related claims, and particularly the reference to a business case for voluntary initiatives, need to be treated with caution. CSR is not necessarily or only greenwash, but there is a need to engage business critically towards more sincere versions of CSR.


business case fairness labour rights South Africa Zambia 


  1. Azapagic A. (2004) ‘Developing a Framework for Sustainable Development Indicators for the Mining and Minerals Industry’, Journal of Cleaner Production 12(6): 639–662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Banerjee S.B. (2001) ‘Corporate Citizenship and Indigenous Stakeholders: Exploring a new dynamic of organisational–stakeholder relationships’, The Journal of Corporate Citizenship 1: 39–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bezuidenhout A., D. Fig, R. Hamann and R. Omar (2003) ‘A Political Economy of Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility’, paper presented at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development/Sociology of Work Unit conference on Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility in South Africa, Johannesburg, 22 May 2003.Google Scholar
  4. Bond P. (2001) Against Global Apartheid: South Africa meets the World Bank, IMF and International Finance. Cape Town: UCT Press.Google Scholar
  5. BPD (Business Partners for Development) (2002) Putting Partnering to Work: Tri-sector partnership results and recommendations (1998–2001), London: Business Partners For Development Also available online via
  6. BPD–NRC (Business Partners for Development–Natural Resources Cluster) (2002) Partnerships for Managing Social Issues in the Extractive Industries: Case study of local business development, Zambia, London: Business Partners for Development Also available online via
  7. Commission of Inquiry into Safety and Health in the Mining Industry (1995) Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Safety and Health in the Mining Industry. Available via
  8. CRC (Conflict Resolution Consortium) (2001) Rustenburg/Anglo Platinum Conflict Stabilisation Project, Rustenburg: Conflict Resolution Consortium.Google Scholar
  9. Driscoll C. and A. Crombie (2001) Stakeholder Legitimacy Management and the Qualified Good Neighbour: The case of Nova Nada and JDI. Business & Society, 40(4): 442–471.Google Scholar
  10. European Commission (2001) ‘Promoting a European Framework for Corporate Social Responsibility’, Green Paper. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  11. Ferguson J. (1990) ‘Mobile Workers, Modernist Narratives: A critique of the historiography of transition on the Zambian Copperbelt, Part One’, Journal of Southern African Studies 16(3): 385–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Flynn L. (1992) Studded with Diamonds and Paved with Gold: Miners, mining companies and human rights in Southern Africa, London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  13. FoEI (Friends of the Earth International) GroundWork and CorpWatch (2002) Greenwash Awards. Pietermaritzburg: Groundwork.Google Scholar
  14. Griffin J. and J.F. Mahon (1997) ‘The Corporate Social Performance and Corporate Financial Performance Debate: Twenty-five years of incomparable research’, Business and Society 36(1): 5–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hamann R. (2004) ‘Corporate Social Responsibility in Mining in South Africa’, PhD thesis submitted to the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.Google Scholar
  16. Hamann R. and N. Acutt (2003) ‘How Should Civil Society (and the Government) Respond to ‘Corporate Social Responsibility? A Critique of Business Motivations and the Potential for Partnerships’, Development Southern Africa 20(2): 255–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Holliday C.O., S. Schmidheiny and P. Watts (2002) Walking the Talk, The Business Case for Sustainable Development, Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing.Google Scholar
  18. Humphreys D. (2000) ‘A Business Perspective on Community Relations in Mining’, Resources Policy 26: 127–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kapelus P. and J. Carnegie (2001) ‘Business & Poverty: Integrating the sustainable livelihoods approach with corporate citizenship’, Unpublished document prepared for the Department for International Development, UK.Google Scholar
  20. Korten D. (2001) ‘The Responsibility of Business to the Whole’, in R. Starkey and R. Welford (eds.) The Earthscan Reader in Business & Sustainable Development, London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  21. Levy D.E. (1997) ‘Environmental Management as Political Sustainability’, Organization & Environment 10(2): 126–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Margolis J.D. and J.P. Walsh (2003) ‘Misery Loves Companies: Rethinking social initiatives by business’, Administrative Science Quarterly 48: 268–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mitchell N.J. (1989) The Generous Corporation: A political analysis of power, New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  24. MMSD (Mining, Minerals, and Sustainable Development) (2002) Breaking New Ground: The report of the Mining, Minerals, and Sustainable Development Project, May 2002, London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  25. MMSD (Mining, Minerals, and Sustainable Development) & PWC (PriceWaterhouseCoopers) (2001) Mining and Minerals Sustainability Survey 2001, London: MMSD.Google Scholar
  26. Pallister D., S. Stewart and I. Lepper (1987) South Africa Inc.; The Oppenheimer Empire, Johannesburg: Media House Publications in association with Lowry Publishers.Google Scholar
  27. Peck P. and K. Sinding (2003) ‘Environmental and Social Disclosure and Data Richness in the Mining Industry’, Business Strategy and the Environment 12 (3): 131–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Plan Associates (2001) ‘Greater Rustenburg Informal Housing Strategy (compiled for the Housing Strategy Forum)’, unpublished document.Google Scholar
  29. Porter M. and C. van der Linde (1995) ‘Green and Competitive: Ending the stalemate’, Harvard Business Review 73(5): 120–134.Google Scholar
  30. Rahaman A.S., S. Lawrence and J. Roper (2004) ‘Social and Environmental Reporting at the VRA: Institutional legitimacy or legitimation crisis?’, Critical Perspectives on Accounting 15: 35–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rawls J. (1999) A Theory of Justice (revised edition), Boston: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Richards A. (1939) Land, Labour and Diet in Northern Rhodesia, London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Rivas-Ducca G. (2002) Less Mining for a Better World. LINK, 101, London: Friends of the Earth International.Google Scholar
  34. Roberts J. (2003) ‘The Manufacture of Corporate Social Responsibility’, Organization 10(2): 249–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Scoones I. (1998) ‘Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: A framework for analysis’, IDS Working Paper No. 72. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies.Google Scholar
  36. Sonnenberg D. and M. Reichardt (2004) ‘Sustainability Reporting in South Africa: Emerging trends from the JSE socially responsible investment index’, unpublished manuscript prepared for the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship, Johannesburg, South Africa.Google Scholar
  37. Third World Network Africa (2001) Mining, Development, and Social Conflicts in Africa, Accra: Third World Network Africa.Google Scholar
  38. Trahar T. (2002) Presentation during a WSSD side event hosted by the WBCSD, Johannesburg, 31 August 2002.Google Scholar
  39. Uglow D.T. (2000) ‘Monitoring and Managing the Social Impacts of Mining: A livelihood approach’, paper presented at the Mineral Economics & Management Society Annual Meeting, Boulder, CO, 12–14 April 2000.Google Scholar
  40. Warhurst A. and L. Noronha (2000) (eds.) Environmental Policy in Mining: Corporate strategy and planning for closure, London: Lewis.Google Scholar
  41. WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) (2000) Corporate Social Responsibility: Making good business sense, available via accessed October 2002).

Copyright information

© Society for International Development 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph Hamann
  • Paul Kapelus

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations