The environmental and social challenges that confront the mining sector, are routinely expressed by civil society and some members of the broader public in the language of human rights. Alleged ‘rights’ transgressions are among the most controversial legacies of the mining industry. Human rights are sometimes thought to be peripheral to the sustainable development debate. For some, the concerns of sustainable development are strictly biophysical. However, at the core of the concept of sustainable development is the reconciliation of society and the natural world: the promotion of harmony between people, and between people and their environment.