Mining companies must build good relationships with indigenous communities



Date of publication: 
7 March 2011

Toronto – Mining companies must engage constructively with indigenous communities, said ICMM’s Aidan Davy at the second annual Mining, People and the Environment conference held in Toronto today.

He highlighted the importance of developing meaningful relationships at every stage of the decision making process. Companies should be sensitive to traditional decision making structures, but also ensure that they engage those sections of the community that are often excluded, including women and young people.

While acknowledging and respecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights and interests should primarily be seen as an ethical responsibility, there are also strong business reasons for companies to engage in this area.

“It is a complex and sensitive area, where mining companies have not always gotten it right,” he said. “And as we can see from recent cases, getting it wrong can profoundly affect share values and the reputation of the company.”

He also talked about the importance of implementing effective grievance mechanisms to ensure that any concerns can be raised and addressed.

In 2010, ICMM published a guide on Indigenous Peoples and mining, which lays out practical steps for companies to ensure best practices are followed and explores the cost of getting it wrong.

It was developed through a multi-stakeholder process – with the oversight of an Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group – and is designed to help ICMM member companies (and others) navigate the complexities associated with operating on or near indigenous lands.

The Guide follows the release of a Position Statement on Mining and Indigenous Peoples approved by the ICMM Council of CEOs in May 2008.

“The Guide will support ICMM members to deliver on the progressive commitments outlined in ICMM’s Position Statement on Mining and Indigenous Peoples,” said Mr Davy. “This recognizes that in some instances where legal licence to mine is not matched by a social licence to operate, a decision may be made not to proceed with mining.”

The Mining, People and the Environment conference brings together industry, investors and civil society to discuss best practice in environmental management and corporate social responsibility.

It is organized by Mining Environmental Management magazine, and supported by ICMM and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC).

About ICMM

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) was established in 2001 to act as a catalyst for performance improvement in the mining and metals industry. Today, the organization brings together 18 mining and metals companies as well as 30 national and regional mining associations and global commodity associations to address the core sustainable development challenges faced by the industry.

ICMM serves as a change agent – not in areas affecting competitive positioning, but related to our members’ social and environmental responsibilities where collaboration makes sense. Our vision is one of leading companies working together and with others to strengthen the contribution of mining, minerals and metals to sustainable development.

Good Practice Guide: Indigenous Peoples and Mining :
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