Mining provides mineral resources that are essential for the transition to a green economy. But how do we reach a balance between respect for community rights — especially Indigenous communities with ancestral links to the land — and the economic push for greater extraction of the minerals needed to support clean technology?

Dr. Sara Ghebremusse, (previously) Assistant Professor, Peter A Allard School of Law, focuses on the impacts of Canadian mining interests on communities in Africa.

“My parents are from East Africa. I was born and raised in Canada, but having those strong familial ties to East Africa always made me very interested in understanding the social, political, and economic conditions — not just in my parent’s homeland Eritrea, but across Sub-Saharan Africa because there are a lot of similarities,” explains Dr. Ghebremusse.

Members of local communities whose interests intersect with mining because they reside on resource-rich lands are often placed at a disadvantage in decision-making processes. “But if mining is going to proceed sustainably in Africa, it really cannot be done without the voices and concerns of local communities, regardless of how challenging that process can be to orchestrate,” says Dr. Ghebremusse.

Previous research by Dr. Ghebremusse focused on the issue of transparency in mining; particularly Canadian mining company payments to governments, and other elements of governance and regulation. Now Ghebremusse is investigating social sustainability issues, such as human rights violations arising from mining activities (e.g., violence against members of the community), and the displacement of local people.

“We have similar issues in Canada when we think about resource extraction especially in Indigenous territories, with very little to no consideration of the interests of the Indigenous peoples whose territories this extraction is going to take place in. And that is something that has very much shaped Crown and Indigenous relations in B.C.,” she added.

Future research by Dr. Ghebremusse and others will inform the development of consistent governance norms to ensure that the presence and activities of Canadian mining companies are meeting their own sustainability objectives.

Learn more about Research Centres and Programs at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, including centres of excellence in business law, environmental law and natural resources, Asian legal studies, and feminist legal studies.