Only 38% of aboriginal peoples living in rural or remote communities have a favourable perception of the exploration and mining industry, according to a recent Canada-wide study conducted by PR Associates. There are about 1,200 aboriginal communities located within 200 km of 180 producing mines and at least 2,500 active exploration projects.
The most responsible mining companies have always consulted with First Nations and obtained their permission to proceed. Both sides have worked out individual benefits agreements by which the mining company is obliged to provide training, business opportunity, grants and sometimes a royalty or share of the profits. That is as it should be.
The goals of the new PR Associates study is to provide information that will help build transparent relationships so that resource development can proceed. The benchmarks in the study provide insight into how miners can be socially responsible, and gain their social licences to operate. The industry can engage aboriginal communities in ways that are meaningful to them.
The PR study also uncovered a few positive statistics. On most topics aboriginal people under age 35 have a more positive opinion of mining than do their elders. The study also revealed favourable impressions of the industry in several areas, including providing economic benefits, opportunities for Canadians and youth, ensuring employee safety and respecting human rights.
All of this information will be of value to explorers and miners. It should be required reading for executive teams wanting to improve their social responsibility.
PR Associates presented the findings of the study at the 2014 Yukon Geoscience Forum. To read the entire “Aboriginal Canadian and Their Support for the Mining Industry: The Reality, Challenges and Solutions” click here and provide your information via email to PR Associates.