The social process around mine development starts at the onset of exploration and can return genuine value for junior miners, according to Trilogy Metals exploration manager Andy West.
Speaking at the Future of Mining Americas conference in Denver, Colorado, this week, West said it was the responsibility of the geologists as the first boots on the ground to establish a positive first experience for a community with a resources company.
"It's almost an innovative thing for juniors to approach communities before doing any work," he said.
"There are projects littered across the world that haven't been developed because companies went in and said they had a legal right to be there, so they were happy to provide jobs, but the communities had no right to be involved in the process."
Trilogy is pushing forward its Upper Kobuk copper-zinc-lead-gold-silver-cobalt properties in socially sensitive north-west Alaska.
He likened the social process to any other key stage of project derisking for a mining development and that value could be realised through M&A - a common exit for investors in junior resources firms.
"When a major comes looking for a project, they're not looking for only grade and tonnes, they want to know if the project has community backing or if there are elements of the community who are opposed," West said.