I first heard the words “meeting under the mango tree” as a euphemism for having a predictable, easy to access process for enabling community members to raise issues and concerns in a safe and familiar place. There is no fixed agenda and no one-size-fits-all for these exchanges. With one company we set up drop-in centres in each local village with a designated community officer in attendance everyday. Another made it known that a company person would be available “under the mango tree” for two hours every market day. I am hoping this blog will achieve something similar – the regular, free and open sharing of ideas and experiences. Time will tell how well it works out.
Back in June I wrote about ten must-do-actions for a stronger social licence. These come from personal experience managing company-community relations on mine sites in Africa. This new / different / alternative take on doing what matters comes from local communities, reflecting directly on their concerns for the well-being and development opportunities for individuals and the collective community...
What are we talking about here?
Taking complaints seriously and establishing a good complaint handling procedure is one of the most effective ways of dealing with local concerns. Implementing a simple, well-designed procedure demonstrates a willingness to take community members and their issues seriously. A good process can play a major part in building better relationships with local communities, will help with the early identification and resolution of concerns and will reduce the potential for unanswered questions to escalate into something more serious.
Social Licence to Operate is a mining industry concept. The expression was first used by Canadian Jim Cooney in 1997. This was a decade after the landmark 1987 Brundtland Report and a few years after the concept of the triple-bottom-line was first described by John Elkington. Its use has now spread well beyond the mining industry and as has happened with triple-bottom-line and sustainable development, the term "social licence" has been interpreted and used in many ways. Licence to Operate is currently seen by many as the biggest risk to the mining and metals industry, just as it was back in the 1990’s when Jim Cooney coined the term...
(the new bits are links to human rights and indigenous peoples resources)
We make assumptions all the time. Sometimes they are reasonable and sometimes they are wrong and lead to serious consequences. Investing an hour to do a little on-line research to learn about the the country where your project is located will be time well spent. While there are any number of sites to choose, I find some to be more useful than others...
Check-out the one-minute video before delving deeper into the must-do-actions to demonstrate the behaviour needed to establish trust and build relationships. Without trust and good relationships the likelihood of success (for the business generally and for community-facing activities in particular) is greatly reduced...
What are we talking about?
Land access needs to be viewed in two parts. Land Access can be temporary and short-term and in the context of mineral exploration is associated with initial reconnaissance, surveying, test-pits and drilling. Camp facilities are usually considered temporary although their use may extend for many years. These activities can cause temporary loss of economic benefit from land use as a result of short-term restricted access for farming and damage to / loss of crops. Temporary land access should not result in physical displacement.
The second aspect is Land Acquisition and Resettlement. This is associated with accessing land required for building new (greenfields) or expanded (brownfield) operations. Large-scale land acquisition, involving large numbers of individuals, significant areas and resettlement is typically associated with greenfield projects, and is a complex and costly (typically running to $Ms) and lengthy (2-5 years) undertaking that must be managed using robust project management processes. The work is usually outsourced to resettlement specialists...
- Community Development
- Community Engagement
- Community Health
- Company Behaviour
- Mining Insights
- Responsible Business Management