Representatives of the world's most important mining companies, including Anglo American, China Minmetals Corporation, Rio Tinto and Zamin Resources, as well as experts in the sector from within the Catholic Church, Caritas and Oxfam America attended a Day of Reflection at the Vatican on Saturday.
Yesterday, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone SDB sent a message on behalf of the Holy Father to all the participants. In the message, Cardinal Bertone SDB said the meeting was of great importance, not only due to the presence of numerous leaders of multinational companies, but also because it is the first time that the directors of the mining industry have met, “close to the Successor of Peter, to reflect on the importance of their human and environmental responsibilities”.
It adds that “the extraction industries are seen, not always without reason, as unjustly exploiting resources and local populations, resorting even to slavery and the forced removal of entire populations. … Mining, like many other industrial activities, has ecological and social consequences which go well beyond national borders and pass from one generation to the next. The participants in this meeting are aware that, so as not to repeat grave errors of the past, decisions today cannot be taken solely from geological perspectives or the possible economic benefits for investors and for the states in which the companies are based.
"A new and more profound decision-making process is indispensable and inescapable, one which takes into consideration the complexity of the problems involved, in a context of solidarity.
"Such a context requires, first of all, that workers be assured of all their economic and social rights, in full accordance with the norms and recommendations of the International Labour Organisation. Likewise it requires the assurance that extraction activities respect international standards for the protection of the environment. The great challenge of business leaders is to create a harmony of interests, involving investors, managers, workers, their families, the future of their children, the preservation of the environment on both a regional and international scale, and a contribution to world peace”.
Cardinal Bertone concluded by commenting that the local Churches “will surely wish to imitate your Pontifical Council's solicitude, and place themselves at the service of miners, so as to help them develop an ever more integral version of this question”.