Success in the mining industry today depends on being able to effectively engage with governments, civil society and host communities. Open dialogue between mine representatives and local stakeholders allows mining companies to better understand the needs and aspirations of communities, while resolving issues of concern. Barrick’s local communities need to know that if they have any concerns, they can come to the company for answers. By being responsive to the issues and expectations of stakeholders, Barrick builds the trust that is necessary to achieve long-term support for its operations around the world.
Although Barrick has had formal and informal grievance mechanisms in place at its operations for some time, the company has been working to strengthen and enhance these procedures. Grievance mechanisms are designed to give the community a voice, and provide a systematic way to resolve complaints before they turn into something more serious. A number of related initiatives are also underway to bolster the company’s ability to effectively respond to community grievances, if and when they arise.
“We now have a fully-revised and detailed Community Grievance Management and Resolution Procedure which incorporates current best practices in resolution management, including issues related to human rights,” says Peter Sinclair, Barrick’s vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility. “The company’s updated procedure has been informed by the UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, John Ruggie’s ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ framework, which is the standard guiding principle in this area.”
These procedures also support Barrick’s commitment to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, considered to be the gold standard in security practices for extractive companies operating in developing countries. The revised procedures are currently being rolled out at Barrick sites, and have already been fully implemented at a number of sites.
The company is also working on developing and enhancing the skill set of its 275 community relations employees in the field, who are responsible for community engagement and identifying social risks as they arise, allowing the company to respond quickly. A modular and comprehensive community relations training program will include e-learning modules, workshops, case studies, videos and task sheets. The training program is designed to build the capacity of all Community Relations teams across the company.
By continually challenging and improving upon processes, procedures and training methods, Barrick is building trust and delivering meaningful benefits to host communities in areas where the company operates.