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Mining can be critical to achieving the development aspirations of many developing countries and remote regions. Often, however, the local and national development benefits of mining operations have been limited, and, in some cases, the results have even been negative.

Historically, a focus just on mining company rights and the provision of government tax benefits, while giving limited attention to environmental, social and local economic issues, has limited the sector’s contribution to sustainable development. Working to overcome these concerns, governments, companies and communities increasingly recognize the need for a broader understanding of mining’s potential contribution to local and national development. Transforming this awareness into action requires building the capacity, knowledge and tools required for appropriate reform of government and company policies and processes. 

IISD has been deeply involved in the development of a Model Mining Development Agreement (MMDA) with the International Bar Association’s (IBA) Mining Law Committee. IISD was invited to join the core administrative group on this IBA project when it began in 2009. Since then, we have engaged with the global legal and business community to develop an approach based on a simple question: What would a mining contract with a developing country look like if one started from the perspective of sustainable development? 

IISD has served as the secretariat to the Inter-governmental Forum on Minining, Mineral, Metals and Sustainable Development since 2015.  

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