Communities are increasingly recognizing – and demanding – that they receive direct and tangible benefits in return for hosting mining and other extractive operations. To cultivate community acceptance and support for their operations, there is a growing onus on companies to demonstrate that the positive benefits of their presence will outweigh the associated negative impacts.
In our experience, the best way to do this is to build respectful and trust-based relationships at many levels within the community, and to work collaboratively to address local needs and priorities. Through on-going discussions and dialogue, the company should work to understand community needs, interests and priorities. Building from this understanding, the company can support local communities in meeting these needs and priorities through a multi-pronged strategy that delivers:
– Strategic community investment – supporting programs and initiatives that strengthen local institutions and programs and contribute to identified desirable outcomes
– Local economic development and diversification – building local capacity and encouraging entrepreneurship, and
– Training and skills development – to enable local hiring and promotion.
Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada is doing important work to shine a spotlight on the role and importance of local procurement as a vehicle for social and economic development in host communities. In their recent report, Local Procurement by the Canadian Mining Industry: A Study of Public Reporting Trends, they highlight that “Local spending on goods and services leads to more local jobs and income, transfers skills and technology, and helps to create vital domestic business networks” (see: http://www.ewb.ca/sites/default/files/ewb-msv-local-procurement-reporting.pdf).
Stratos supports EWB Canada’s local procurement program called Mining Shared Value, and shares its call for mining companies to take a more sophisticated approach to cultivating local procurement and its associated benefits as an important element of building community support and acceptance.