Producing cement has significant local impacts on surrounding communities, both positive and negative.
Positive: Job creation and the provision of products and services – particularly significant in remote locations in developing countries, where there may be few other opportunities for economic development.
Negative: Dust and noise; disturbance to landscape, local watershed and local biodiversity caused by limestone quarrying.
The CSI is fully aware that the ways by which companies evaluate and manage their social and environmental impacts affect the quality of life of the communities involved. Maintaining a ‘license to operate’ depends on the support and trust of local communities. Once they set up operations within a community, cement companies become a part of that community. CSI member companies are thus fully committed to a business model that respects, appreciates and cares for both local landscapes and the people who live in them.
The cement industry has long recognized its responsibility for rehabilitation of quarry and cement plant sites following closure. CSI members believe that individual companies must look at sites on a case-by-case basis to assess their potential environmental, social and economic value to the local community. The most useful tool for understanding and managing the impacts of a particular site is a careful and thorough Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). Through scientific analysis and stakeholder engagement, this assessment process helps a company identify the critical environmental and social issues associated with a site, and then develop effective options for dealing with them.
It is the experience of CSI members that plans for rehabilitation are most effective where they are drawn up (a) as early as possible in the site development process, and (b) in conjunction with relevant local stakeholders. These plans then need to be reviewed periodically, to keep pace with changing expectations, economic conditions and good practice.
As promised in the 2002 Agenda for Action, the CSI produced concise guidelines for an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment process for companies to use in evaluating major projects. CSI members have begun to use the ESIA guidelines for new limestone quarries, and are currently evaluating how best to integrate them into new projects. For cement plant sites, however, it is almost impossible to plan ahead for rehabilitation, as the land use possibilities change considerably over time. Plans for plant sites, therefore, need to be developed once a closure date draws near.