On behalf of the Pope, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, welcomed mining industry leaders to the Vatican on 7th September. The occasion was the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s Day of Reflection on environmental and social questions relevant to the mining industry. The day was chaired by Cardinal Turkson of Ghana, who was himself born into a mining family.
Aram Shishmanian, Chief Executive Officer of the World Gold Council, was amongst industry leaders who attended along with senior executives from member companies - AngloGold Ashanti and Newmont, and a number of other international mining companies and the International Council of Mining and Metals. In addition to church representatives, the meeting was also joined by leaders of a number of NGOs, including Oxfam America and Caritas.
Pope Francis sent a message to the meeting emphasising its importance and noting that ‘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.’ He underlined the importance of respect for workers’ rights and of respect for international standards for the protection of the environment and noted that ‘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.’
The Day of Reflection was a ground-breaking meeting that has started an important dialogue with the Catholic Church and concluded with a commitment to further engagement and discussion.