Sustainable development requires companies to engage with stakeholders at various levels to understand the context in which activities occur and the implications of decisions made.
Most important is engagement with local stakeholders to ensure they are involved in decisions likely to affect them, and to able to cooperate and participate in the achievement of sustainable benefits during and after mining. These are essential to societal acceptance of mining.
Coupled with efforts to contribute to social and economic development, two mutually-reinforcing approaches to local stakeholder engagement are essential: early, meaningful engagement to fully understand and incorporate the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of local stakeholders; and ensuring that affected stakeholders are able to raise concerns, issues or questions and obtain fair, transparent and equitable resolution. In practice, proactive and constructive communication leading to a clear understanding on all sides is vital to ensuring associated benefits of stability, collaboration and improved trust between the company and community.
The handling and resolution of complaints is a natural extension of constructive communications, and rests on a foundation of effective and responsible management of interactions with communities. Ensuring that individuals and communities who may be negatively impacted by a company’s activities are able to seek redress for grievances is also a core part of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.
Mining companies also engage with stakeholders at a corporate level for a range of reasons including securing investment and raising capital; attracting workers; understanding customer expectations; and establishing group-wide supply relationships. Stakeholders can include but are not limited to employees and other workers, shareholders, suppliers, local communities, investors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or other civil society organisations. Being transparent and accountable about the way a company operates and the decision it makes, is an important driver of stakeholder engagement likely to result in ongoing learning within the organisation, improved mutual understanding, as well as increased accountability to a range of stakeholders. Corporate presentations, annual general meetings, corporate reporting, particularly the materiality processes that involve stakeholders to identify the most material issues for companies to report on, are all useful means for companies to engage corporate stakeholders.
Strengthening operational capacity
How mining and metals companies operate is just as important to society as the natural resources they extract, and the products they produce. Responsible mining and metals companies recognise that the long-term success of their operations critically depends on building and maintaining positive relationships with local communities and engaging transparently with other stakeholders.
ICMM company members commit to proactively engage key stakeholders on sustainable development challenges and opportunities in an open and transparent manner, effectively reporting and independently verifying progress and performance (Principle 10).
ICMM members report annually on their sustainable development performance using the leading global standard for sustainability reporting (the GRI sustainability reporting standards). One of the reporting principles of GRI is ‘stakeholder inclusiveness’. In practice, this requires companies to identify their stakeholders and explain how they are responding to their expectations and interests.