Newmont determines model for social licence

Trust building and creativity underpin template for securing community consent
Newmont determines model for social licence Newmont determines model for social licence Newmont determines model for social licence Newmont determines model for social licence Newmont determines model for social licence

The Newmont template for its social process was established in Suriname

Chris Cann

There is a template for securing social licence but it is a flexible model and it requires companies to remove themselves from their comfort zone.

Speaking on a panel at the Future of Mining conference in Denver this week, senior manager within the social responsibility unit of Newmont Mining, Matt King, told delegates the gold group had used the process around the development of the Merian mine in Suriname as the case study for its social licence template.

Following the mine construction and ahead of a new project to be built next door, Newmont invited a thought leadership team made up of NGOs, academics and various industry groups to participate in a "forum for innovation", where they were asked how they would have done things differently at Merian.

The company took that feedback to make changes in how it engaged with the community around its nearby development, with a realignment of the consent process at the core.

"We redesigned the impact assessment process to realign with consent," King said.

"Every step of the way we looked at who should be consenting and we looked at the scope of the study and the style of the study - all the relevant parties were part of the process.

"We were building trust from the start."

He said though the development was now complete, the engagement process continued.

King said to make the process work, both parties had to "build the capacity to engage".

"You have to acknowledge as a company you don't know the best way to engage with a new community. And that the process needs to be community-led, but it's often the first time they've done it. So, there's a process around building capacity and being vulnerable. This takes training.

"We have to work closely with communities using technology and any tool we could think of to make it a hands-on experience to help communities get to the point where they were comfortable. It was very new for us and we put a lot of time into that process.

"We were completely transparent with what we shared and we had to be more comfortable sharing information earlier in the process than we usually would."

He said the development schedule accounted for this process in terms of time and installing social milestones - a first for the company - which allowed more formal engagement with the physical project team.