Is social media important for mining companies?
The short answer is yes.
Social media has become the quintessential networking tool for people, businesses and organizations alike. It has the power to connect brands to their consumers, inform audiences on current topics and trends, and engage audiences to interact and discuss opinions. Whether we like it, use it, or just don’t understand it, social media can be useful for everyone—even mining companies.
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Mining companies have notoriously shied away from public exposure pertaining to mining activities. However, like it or not, much of the information that circulates about the mining industry’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance takes the form of pictures, tweets and infographics.
According to the annual “tracking the trends” report by Deloitte, mining companies need to start getting serious about social media.
“Simply put, public attention spans are diminishing and mining companies that want to tell their side of the story will need to do so a lot more succinctly. That means considering ways to leverage mobile communications and social media in an effort to foster two-way dialogues with investors, industry analysts, community organizations, media and the public at large.”
Unfortunately, the public’s perception of the mining industry is not good--not even a little bit. However, networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn give mining companies a voice to change that.
“Given the weight of public opinion, miners understand the imperative to engage in the public arena if they hope to influence government policy and contribute to a better political/social climate. This imperative goes beyond releasing official reports detailing the contributions they are making to society. It also extends to taking more active roles working with industry associations, better leveraging social media to get their messages out and aligning remuneration policies with their stated goals,” according to the Deloitte report.
Social media also allows companies to educated and engage the general public in order to raise a better understanding of how the industry works and why it’s so important. Companies like Newmont Mining, Anglo American and Rio Tinto are prime examples of how social media can effectively be used to inform and promote projects and initiatives.
Community and government engagement
Social media is increasingly becoming the primary channel through which communities engage, discuss and organize their activities pertaining to a particular operation. By utilizing social media, companies can gain a better understanding of community concerns and how they are perceived, thus using that information to appropriately redirect their activities.
The same goes for building better government relationships. According to Deloitte, mining companies can strengthen their negotiating power by tangibly demonstrating the extent of their social and economic contributions.
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“Understanding the wider impact requires tools such as data analytics to capture social progress metrics and disclosing them through a range of reporting mechanisms, from formal sustainability reports through informal channels like social media.”
It also extends to taking more active roles working with industry associations, better leveraging social media to get their messages out and aligning remuneration policies with their stated goals.”
For mining companies to make ahead in future years, they are going to need to engage with governments and find new ways to communicate and collaborate.
Strategies to counter regulatory uncertainty, according to the Deloitte report, include:
• Working to build better government relationships
• Becoming more vocal in both industry association and through social media
• Measuring social impact
• Helping to set the policy agenda
• Better leveraging mobile technologies
Companies must go beyond simply observing social media and emerge themselves into the world of social networking and engage with the wider stakeholder community.
To stay competitive, mining companies need quality employees. What better way of finding them then through social media.
“Talent acquisition and access has changed in fundamental ways due to shifts in global talent markets, skills shortages, new ways of working and the growing importance of social media. To compete for talent in high demand, companies should treat recruiting like marketing, extend recruiting targets to new and more global talent pools, and use big data tools to locate and assess high-quality candidates,” according to the report.
Sites like LinkedIn have made it extremely easy for companies to promote job openings and provide an open and accessible platform of people around the world to apply.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.