I’ve worked at Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation for 10 years, but have only been in my new position for seven weeks. I can tell you that things do look different from this window; I have to take a more holistic view and approach as the head of the license-to-operate function. And the fact that I am Dominican means that I have to do this well no matter what. It’s not just me, Mejico Angeles, taking office; it’s Mejico Angeles, Dominican national. I feel and welcome that responsibility.
One thing I always try to do, and that I urge all of our people at Pueblo Viejo to do, is to be accessible. My new role changes nothing in this regard. It’s important for us to always bear in mind that the quality of our individual relationships with our various stakeholders equates to an overall perception of Pueblo Viejo and of Barrick. So we must always be accessible, respectful and transparent with regards to our operations.
Our aim is to work together on the ground to support our mutual goal of improving the quality of life for Dominicans.
One of my overriding goals is to deepen our partnership with the Dominican government. In recent years, we have solidified our partnership with the Dominican government following the renegotiation of our Special Lease Agreement for mining rights, which determines how revenue and profits from Pueblo Viejo are dispensed over time. Now, it’s time to build on this foundation and take our partnership to the next level.
To do that, I’ve been leading an initiative to align ourselves with the government’s National Development Strategy. The Strategy, known as the Estrategia Nacional de Desarrollo in Spanish, encompasses a vision for the country as well as Dominicans’ development aspirations. Some of the goals included are reducing poverty, improving education, increasing economic competitiveness and addressing environmental challenges such as climate change. It became law in 2012.
We’re asking every functional area at the mine—community relations, government relations, environment, human resources, supply chain, legal and so on—to review every short-, medium- and long-term initiative they’re in charge of, including every project and every program, to identify the conceptual links between those initiatives and the general and specific objectives outlined in the National Development Strategy. The purpose is to identify opportunities for collaboration to advance the state’s development goals and propose concrete action plans to the relevant government institutions.
Our community relations team has already identified 24 links between its activities the objectives and lines of action stipulated in the law. For instance, the group supports the One Laptop Per Child program here in the Dominican and that initiative, which provides laptops to schools in communities that lack computer labs, is consistent with the general objective in the National Development Strategy to uphold and raise standards in education. Executing this project in direct collaboration with the Ministry of Education adds value to the relationship that exists between the Company and this governmental institution while advancing this state goal. It is through this dynamic that our relationship and mutual sense of partnership deepen.
By undertaking this exercise, we will create a powerful document that frames everything that we’re already doing in support of the National Development Strategy. We also believe that it will help us find new ways to work with the government to advance the Strategy—be it in education, local procurement, local employment, infrastructure development, environmental stewardship, or other areas. Ultimately, our goal is to establish a strategic partnership with the Dominican state by deepening our relationship with the government; our aim is to work together on the ground to support our mutual goal of improving the quality of life for Dominicans.