In 2003 Newmont has signed an investment agreement with the government of Ghana that resulted in the inauguration in 2006 of the large, gold-producing project at Ahafo. The challenge for Newmont has been to resolve the initial conflict resulting from a land dispossession that brought communities close to famine and address the lingering tensions by working towards sustainable solutions. This article discusses the reasoning and strategic thinking that go into Newmont’s attempt to make Ahafo a model mine in Ghana and beyond. Newmont makes an interesting case because of the numerous participatory committees the company has set up to deal with issues such as resettlement, compensation for crops, agricultural support, assistance of vulnerable persons, and strategic development. Furthermore, the involvement of an international donor (USAID) in an ambitious project – the Ghana Mining Alliance – with two mining companies is seldom encountered. Newmont’s practice and thinking at Ahafo offer a great opportunity for reflection about the evolution and nature of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Even though a gap might lie between CSR rhetoric and practice, the possible shift from philanthropy to genuine CSR needs to be documented and understood better. Do these disparate initiatives of Newmont represent ad-hoc adaptations or they amount to a more strategic, different-in-nature approach to CSR? There is a need for a fresh human rights perspective on CSR that could clarify CSR’s role in local capacity-building, institutional development, community participation and good governance dynamics in general.
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