One downside to the new discipline of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is that the term remains to be clearly defined. As the definition changes, so must mining companies adapt their efforts to meeting an ever-changing goal.
CSR is not something to be done once and not revisited.
So kudos to Osisko Mining of Montreal. The company recently polled residents in the Abitibi-Temiscamingue Region about their opinion of the company since the opening of the new Canadian Malartic gold mine. The results were overwhelmingly positive. Ninety-five per cent of Abitibi-Temiscamingue residents estimate that the mining industry has had a very favourable or fairly favourable impact on their region.
Here are more highlights:
• 87% of Malartic residents have a very good opinion (55%) or good opinion (32%) of Osisko.
• 81% of Malartic residents believe they now have better development prospects due to Osisko’s presence in Malartic.
• 92% of Malartic residents believe that Osisko contributes greatly (75%) or adequately (17%) to the economy of Malartic. In particular, they point out the value of stable and well paid employment for Malartic residents, as well as the offers of work for local suppliers and subcontractors.
• 89% of Malartic residents believe that Osisko has contributed to Malartic’s social and cultural life.
• 88% of Malartic residents believe that Osisko has improved their community equipment and facilities.
Osisko worked tirelessly with the community before development. The company asked Malartic residents to do the almost-unthinkable – leave their homes and see them moved to a new location outside the pit design. This poll confirmed that the relocation was generally well perceived.
Moreover, two out of three Malartic residents believe the new mine has had positive impact on their quality of life. The poll also found that residents are aware of Osisko’s efforts to respect the environment, and 81% of them believe the company is putting a lot of effort or enough effort into this aspect of the project. (Interestingly, 36% of those polled thought underground mining would have less environmental impact than open pit mining.)
“We are extremely proud of the results of this poll”, said Osisko president and CEO Sean Roosen. “They confirm the high level of project acceptance in the Malartic community, which has been the most directly affected by the project. But it also reveals that we must continue to improve in some areas.
“It seems, for example, that meeting regulations and industry standards is not always enough to reassure the general public. Whether it happens through innovation or better communication, it is our responsibility to address the concerns and worries expressed in this poll. We are willing to do what it takes to reach this goal.”
Take heed of Roosen’s message: doing the minimum is not enough. Whether you are exploring in the remotest parts of the world or mining in southern Canada, continuing CSR efforts are the only way to protect a company’s social licence to operate.