3 Ways to Build Trust and Engagement in Operating Communities
Without a doubt, trust and engagement play a pivotal role in mining projects. Because the sector is often associated with a negative connotation, developing relationships with communities based on trust and engagement is critical to the short and long-term success of projects.
The following initiatives serve to better strengthen relationships with operating communities as well as build a solid foundation of trust among local stakeholders.
To build trust in operating jurisdiction, transparency is imperative.
For the company’s Eagle Mine in Michigan, the first new mine in decades, Lundin Mining knew it needed to be crystal clear about future mining plans with the community.
The company commissioned a series of focus groups to identify the issues of importance such as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats from the community’s perspective in regards to the new mining project.
“We set out to be very transparent with the community and make this project a two-way engagement,” says Mike Welch, General Manager of Eagle Mine.
“I think every operation has to look at what their own community’s concerns and interests are, and what is the best way for all parties to communicate.”
One surefire way to build community trust and confidence in mining projects is to give community members a voice.
In the case of Eagle Mine, once the company developed environmental and community programs aimed at addressing the community’s interest it commissioned a community scorecard. During town meetings, community members scored the company’s performance in five areas -environmental performance, local hire, safety, communication and engagement, and community development – and then published the results on their website and in the local paper.
By allowing the community to express its opinions and rate the company’s ongoing performance, trust and confidence naturally began to form.
“Historically, there have been perceived risks to such an open and frank style of communication, however that has not been a consideration and all our efforts have been of full value,” says Welch.
“For us, this works. The community has appreciated the opportunity for two-way dialog and as time moves on, community concerns have dampened. People have come up to us and thanked us for the transparency of the project. This has helped build more trust in our community relationships.”
To ensure promises are met and operations continue cleanly, monitoring and reporting progress must remain intact throughout the entire process. Case in point: Eagle Mine’s environmental performance.
To take its community initiatives a step further, Eagle Mine developed an independent program to conduct environmental monitoring of its mining operations. The program, which was administered by the Marquette County Community Foundation, provided the community with third-party verification monitoring at the mine, mill and along the transportation route.
By utilizing these three tips, mining companies can effectively create a legacy of responsible mining in their own operating communities.
Unmanned train to allow Vale to reopen iron ore plant
Brazilian miner Vale SA will be able to resume operations at its Timbopeba iron ore dry processing plant in up to two months thanks to the use of an unmanned train, the company said in a statement this week.
Vale - Timbopeba iro ore plant
With the train, Timbopeba will be able to operate at least at 80% of its capacity of 33,000 tonnes of iron ore “fines” per day, reports Reuters.
Vale was forced to shut down the plant in the Alegria mine complex recently after labor authorities in Minas Gerais state banned activities close to the Xingu dam due to concerns of a risk of collapse.
Vale said access by workers and vehicles continues to be suspended in the flood zone of the dam due to the ban even though it remains at emergency level 2, which means there no imminent risk of rupture.
But some workers are allowed entry under strict security precautions and they will get the unmanned train going once it has been tested, which would take between one and two months, the company said.
The unmanned train will travel automatically along 16 kilometers (10 miles) of track operated by a system that can control the speed and activate the brakes, Vale said.
Vale announces first ore at Voisey’s Bay mine extension
Vale has reached the milestone of first ore production at the Reid Brook deposit at the Voisey’s Bay mine expansion project in Northern Labrador, Canada - recognised as the safest mine in Canada.