Doing Good is Good Business

Driven by a passion for corporate social responsibility, the MABC’s Karina Briño is using her years of experience in the mining industry to help companies go above and beyond

Social responsibility has been a theme not only throughout Karina Briño’s career but throughout her entire life. Briño is president and CEO of the Mining Association of British Columbia (MABC), which represents producers of metal, coal mines, smelters, and companies with projects in the advanced stages of exploration throughout the province. “I strongly believe that as a society we all have a responsibility to ensure we live in healthy communities,” Briño says, “and that people have opportunities to succeed.”

Briño began her career in social services in British Columbia, first providing services to youths at risk and adults with special needs, and later designing and developing programs aimed at promoting self-reliance and labour-force attachment. Soon, however, she began to seek new opportunities to serve. “Although I was passionate about providing those services, I also saw an incredible opportunity to figure out how we could serve people in need even better,” Briño says. “A lot of government funding is being invested in delivering programs to deal with special issues, but I felt there was a better way of doing things, and I became interested in social policy.”

FACTS & FIGURES

1901

Year the MABC was established through British Columbia legislature

$8.5B

2013 gross mining revenues for the British Columbia mining industry

$511M

2013 payments the British Columbia mining industry made to the government

16,770 workers

Hiring requirements for all mining sectors in British Columbia over the next 10 years

10,720

The number of people working in British Columbia’s mining industry in 2013

In joining the MABC, Briño sought to harness that passion in the mining industry, which she says is uniquely positioned to serve communities. “Mining companies in British Columbia are committed to ensuring they’re integral parts of the community in which they operate,” Briño says. “Providing people with services when they’re in need is one thing; providing people with opportunities for sustainable employment is a more meaningful path to self-reliance. Mining companies are doing more than providing services through the taxes they pay; they’re providing real opportunities for jobs for the generations of families growing up in remote communities. Fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, [and] grandchildren work at the mine.”

One of Briño’s earliest initiatives, for instance, sought to increase the participation of unrepresented sectors in the mining industry. “Although the industry is the largest private-sector employer of Aboriginal peoples, I think there’s still much more we can do,” she says. To that end, Briño has developed a number of programs to accomplish more. “I think it’s important for us as an industry to understand that in some of these communities, some services and supports will be required before a person is able to obtain employment and stay employed,” she says. “So we’re providing opportunities for training, developing life skills, and enhancing self-confidence, and we’re working to ensure jobs stay local so people can stay at home with their families instead of moving around.”

Today, Briño’s primary focus is the implementation of a program called Towards Sustainable Mining. Originally developed as a national program by the Mining Association of Canada, it sought to ensure that the industry went above and beyond regulatory requirements via a management system comparable to an International Organization for Standardization program. With Briño’s help, it’s now being adopted by the MABC so that its members can follow the same protocols. “It’s a continuous improvement program that looks at a wide range of practices in the mining industry—everything from biodiversity to energy conservation to Aboriginal engagement—and allows companies to determine their performance in those areas,” Briño says.

She notes that the results are made public and, every two or three years, audited by external parties who are members of the community, such as financial experts, environmental groups, and Aboriginal community heads. “It goes beyond what we say in our speeches,” Briño says. “We’ve made a tangible, measurable commitment to being the credible, transparent, accountable industry we know we are.”