Towards Sustainable Development: Conflict Management Practice and Education

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2016-02-22

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Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration

Abstract

Fostering positive community relations is a principal tenet of sustainable development, but conflict can test even the strongest of relationships. While conflict surrounding resource development projects has the potential to be destructive, it may actually pose opportunities for partnership and collaboration when managed effectively. It is therefore not only important for mineral resource professionals to recognize the financial and social costs associated with legal disputes among project stakeholders, but also for them to prioritize resolving social conflict using alternative channels that allow for win-win outcomes. A variety of dispute prevention and resolution techniques do exist, but successful practice is not yet the norm. Here we review the sources and consequences of social conflict in the context of mining projects, and discuss typical and alternative approaches to conflict management in light of their respective benefits and drawbacks. We also suggest implementation of conflict resolution lessons into resource-related university curricula as a critical step in the continued shift of the mining industry towards sustainable development.

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