Alec Sellem: The Social License of Responsible Gold Mining

April 12, 2019 - By 

Respect for local societies and human rights are of particular importance for responsible gold-mining companies. The draft Responsible Gold Mining Principles (RGMPs), promulgated by the UK-based World Gold Council, a market development organization for the gold industry that provides information about responsible gold mining practices in addition to industry data, research, are a new framework that sets out clear expectations for investors, downstream gold supply chain participants and other stakeholders as to what constitutes responsible gold mining. A broad range of stakeholders including governments, international organizations, investors, NGOs, academics, IGOs and supply chain participants have contributed to the guidelines. Once the consultation is completed and the draft is finalized, member companies will be expected to comply with the principles.

One leader in this field is Alec Sellem, CEO and founder of Sellem Industries LLC, based in London, England.  Sellem has spearheaded the strategic vision of the company and established strong partnerships with energy conservation and business-minded professionals.  Throughout his career, Sellem’s primary focus has been on security strategies and technology, which led him to several successful startups before founding Sellem Industries.

Along with contributing to the RGMPs, Sellem recently joined a panel of mining specialist industry leaders at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.  The primary focus as energy laws in Africa, and the objective is to assess the overall effectiveness of the current energy law in Africa that is under construction and propose solutions to better the outcome. The safety and wellbeing of employees, contractors and local communities is a fundamental concern of responsible gold-mining companies. Responsibly undertaken, gold mining and its associated activities can have a transformative effect on socio-economic development in countries where gold is found.  Sellem intends to pen the social license to guide the change.

More specifically, gold mining has the potential to make a significant, positive impact on the economies of the countries in which gold mining takes place and on the lives of the citizens of those countries.   It has the most substantial impact on growth and wealth creation in developing countries. Gold mining is a major economic driver for many countries across the world. In addition to supporting the needs of a gold mine, these improvements to roads, water and electricity supplies are a long-term benefit to businesses and communities across the area, that outlives the production years of a gold mine. Many invest in social infrastructure, including schools, colleges and health care centers that improve the opportunities and wellbeing of local people. Companies often work with community-based organizations or non-government organizations to plan and implement these programs.

Responsible gold mining also means addressing concerns that resources could fund unlawful activity, particularly when operating in areas affected by armed conflict, such as civil war or militia activity. According to the World Gold Council, amongst the top 30 gold producing countries, over 60% are low or lower-middle income countries with substantial socio-economic development needs.  Mine worker salaries are consistently higher than the national average. In many countries with limited employment opportunities, these mining jobs often support many dependents.

Not surprisingly, given that reliance on foreign aid is an inherently vulnerable position for any impoverished country, it is notable that the economic value directly and indirectly created by the gold mining industry globally has exceeded the global total value of development assistance every year since 2010.  This is all good news to for Alec Sellem and his efforts toward advancing responsible gold mining.

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