High interest in stakeholder relations
How to work with Aboriginal communities is a subject very much on the minds of exploration and mining companies in Canada today. We therefore assigned a journalism intern, Matt Shilton, working at our company to interview people during the PDAC convention in March about the current state of affairs between miners and explorers and their Aboriginal neighbours. The results of his labours are on page 37 of this issue.
Shilton had no prior experience with the mining industry nor First Nations, but here’s what he had to say as he finalized the article: “Conflict is always interesting, especially when there are two sides to the story, and I can see both sides. Canada is supposed to be a first world country, but there are Aboriginal people living in third world conditions here today.”He concluded:”It’s good to write about something that people care about.”
He’s right that people online readers voted on the Hot Topics poll about Aboriginal land rights than any other issue so far this year. Of the 172 people who answered the question, “Should Aboriginal bands have absolute say over whether resources are developed on their lands?” the answers were almost split between Yes and No, and more than a dozen people followed up their vote with insightful comments.
A more recent poll question concerns another aspect of sustainable development: “Do mining and exploration companies do enough consultation with environmental advocates?” So far the response has been: 17% say Too Much, 29% say Enough and 54% say Not Enough.
Our readers (and by extension the Canadian mining industry) show a large degree of open-mindedness today, and that is an incredible strength. I would like to share with you the comment from Peter Broad, senior metallurgist with Wardrop Mining and Minerals in Toronto, in response to the poll about consulting with environmental advocates.
“Every mine that fails to open due to negativity initiated by an NGO is proof that not enough [consultation] has been done. I once tried (before joining Wardrop) to intervene on behalf of a mine that planned operations in South America, only to be told that the company’s engineering team had everything under control. Two years later, when the company shares dipped and the board was dismissed, it was obvious that they were not in control. Being able to say ‘I told you so’ has no silver lining. The company lost, but the community lost even more.
“I am a strong believer in the ICMM’s community development tool kit in pioneering new approaches in support of sustainable development in the mining sector. Realizing that I do not have the momentum to move this by myself, I have joined with an engineering consultancy that has similar views. Hopefully we can convince those still nave enough to think that positive cash flow is enough to open a mine, that doing so will be a lot easier within a stakeholder team.”