Mining and Corporate Social Responsibility: Scotbar Proprietary Limited
(10 pages of text)
The chief executive officer of Scotbar Proprietary Limited (Scotbar) in Queensland, Australia, decided to develop a process to convert sandstone to sand, a technique that large multinational mining companies failed to perfect. The stakes could not have been higher, with global environmental disaster looming and the world quickly depleting its reserves of construction sand, severely affecting coastal communities and destroying marine ecosystems in the process. After spending years and millions of dollars on research, Scotbar appeared to have developed a process to produce construction sand, although more expensive than natural sand. Scotbar decided not to patent its process in hopes that more companies would adopt it and thereby reduce the harmful impact of mining on the environment. Was Scotbar’s approach to sustainability through innovation an effective response to the environmental legacy of more traditional mining processes? Was the company’s approach to intellectual property appropriate in this context?
This case is suitable for use in undergraduate and graduate level courses on corporate social responsibility, sustainability, or entrepreneurship. The case raises several issues related to sustainable mining, such as the balance between profit and planet, the role of regulation, and the management of intellectual property. After completion of this case, students will be able to
- describe the concept of sustainability through innovation and the associated challenges of balancing profit and sustainability objectives;
- explain ethical and moral theories such as the triple bottom line, and apply these to a real-life example;
- outline the challenges of finding markets for new sustainable alternatives to existing unsustainable products; and
- assess the role of intellectual property, including copyrights and patents, to support sustainability.
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction
Australia, Small, 2017
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