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In This Issue:


Finland imports Canadian CSR expertise, adopts TSM Initiative

 

In November, the Finnish Mining Association, FinnMin, announced it was adopting TSM, taking the made-in-Canada program global. FinnMin’s adoption of TSM is not just a milestone for the program, it is yet another example of Canadian mining leadership. Canada has long been recognized for its mining expertise, traditionally in the areas of finance, equipment and technical services, but this demonstrates the growing recognition of Canada’s expertise in responsible mining practices.

MAC and its members launched TSM in 2004. Implementation of the program is mandatory for all MAC members’ Canadian operations, but many voluntarily apply it to their international sites. TSM requires mining companies to annually assess their facilities’ performance across six important areas, including tailings management, Aboriginal and community outreach, safety and health, biodiversity conservation, crisis management, and energy use and greenhouse gas emissions management. The results are freely available to the public and are externally-verified every three years to ensure what has been reported is accurate. While FinnMin will tailor its performance areas so that they reflect the unique aspects of its domestic mining sector, they will closely resemble those of Canada’s.

To ensure TSM reflects the expectations of civil society and industry stakeholders, it was designed and continues to be shaped by an independent, multi-stakeholder advisory panel. As part of its implementation, FinnMin has also set up a similar advisory body to provide this valuable oversight function.

Exporting Canada’s expertise in environmental and social stewardship is one important way that Canada can contribute to responsible mining practices around the world. It is also something that MAC has prioritized. In fact, FinnMin’s adoption of TSM is part of a larger commitment of MAC’s to freely share TSM with other countries seeking tools to improve the environmental and social performance of their mining industry, including engagement with civil society and enhanced transparency and accountability.

Both FinnMin and MAC are very excited by this development and will now be working together to spread TSM even further. For more information about TSM, please visit www.mining.ca/tsm.
Photo: (Left to Right) Ben Chalmers, Vice President of Sustainable Development, MAC; Pierre Gratton, President and CEO, MAC; and Markus Ekberg, Chairman, FinnMin. Photo taken at the signing ceremony on November 3, 2015 in Kittilä, Finland. 


Mining and Aboriginal partnerships: Present & future

 

In a keynote address at the Canadian Aboriginal Minerals Association’s 23rd annual conference in Vancouver, MAC President and CEO, Pierre Gratton, spoke about how mining industry and Aboriginal relationships have progressed and are generating benefits in communities across the country. He also spoke about the industry’s part on the road to reconciliation, and how industry, Aboriginal communities and governments can work together to achieve common goals. The following are several highlights from Pierre’s speech.
 

On mining companies: 

Today, there are well over 250 agreements between mining companies and indigenous communities across the country.  It is decidedly rare that projects proceed without impact benefit or other such agreements concluded. These agreements, which have matured with time and experience, provide significant local benefits and assurances, including:
  • Employment targets or guarantees (which have helped make mining the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal peoples on a proportional basis).
  • Commitments on local business procurement, and often, assistance in setting up or enabling Aboriginal-owned companies to take advantage of the business opportunities mines provide.
  • Agreements with respect to the incorporation of traditional knowledge in mine planning and environmental monitoring and oversight. 
  • Support for skills training and mentorship initiatives.  
  • Direct economic or financial benefits. 
Nonetheless, it is undeniable that the negotiation of these agreements takes time.  Trust must be built between the parties, and indigenous communities rightly want to understand the nature of the physical and environmental impacts of the proposed mine prior to it proceeding.

Building and maintaining trust is ongoing; engagement has to be systematic and continuous, embedded in corporate practices and culture. We have to be open about what we do and involve indigenous peoples in parts of our business that matter to them, and offer training that supports such involvement.

 

On Aboriginal communities: 

…communities should set out their expectations clearly, so that proponents may understand them.  Such expectations can be with respect to how consultation is to be conducted, the social and environmental values that must be respected and expectations for participation in benefits.

To optimize long-term benefits from mining, successful communities also think long term. Some establish investments that support their students’ long-term educational goals. Investing in new business endeavours to service and supply the mine and other activities in the region, is also wise.

 

On government:

As the new Liberal regime in Ottawa prepares its policy agenda, it is my hope that it is one that recognizes the crucial role that resource development plays in the Canadian economy writ large and in the day-to-day lives of northerners and Aboriginals, and takes critical steps to support it.

Investing in northern infrastructure and committing to reconciliation with indigenous peoples are two areas that can help make a big difference in securing a prosperous future for Aboriginal peoples and for our country.


For a full copy of Pierre’s speech, please visit here.


Spotlight on Suncor’s Aboriginal Awareness Programs

 

When it comes to relationship building with Aboriginal communities, cultural awareness training for employees is critical, as is ensuring employees responsible for community engagement have the right skills. Suncor, one of MAC’s member companies, has been offering innovative training to its employees for over four years. This training covers the history of Aboriginal Peoples and addresses topics such as residential schools, treaty and Aboriginal rights, and Aboriginal-Crown relationships. The training also addresses issues such as bias, misperceptions, assumptions, and how being aware of the history and experiences of Aboriginal people in Canada will help build reconciliation and better relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.  To date, close to 500 Suncor employees have participated in this classroom training program.

Suncor has also recently launched an online training course called Aboriginal Awareness at Suncor. This course provides a high-level overview of Aboriginal Peoples’ experiences in Canada, including what life was like before contact. It also covers how Suncor expects its employees to positively contribute to the company’s relationships with Aboriginal peoples across the country. Information comes to life through videos of people sharing their stories, including several Suncor employees who are of Aboriginal heritage and Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada.

Advancing Aboriginal awareness extends beyond these training initiatives. Suncor’s new Aboriginal Employee Network, with over 180 members from across the country, allows any Suncor employee interested in advancing Aboriginal inclusion to participate in company inclusion initiatives and outreach opportunities with local communities.

Across the resource development industry, it is widely regarded that growing Aboriginal participation in our sector is not just the right thing to do, but it provides immeasurable benefits to both companies and communities alike. Cultural awareness training and initiatives, such as those offered at Suncor, are key ingredients to building positive relationships with Aboriginal communities, growing the participation of Indigenous peoples in our sector, and contributing to reconciliation efforts.
Photo credit: Suncor Energy


MAC publishes new guide on site-level grievance mechanisms

 

This fall, MAC published a guide to assist companies in overcoming common implementation challenges with site-level grievance mechanisms (GMs) – an important community relations tool that helps to ensure that community complaints are heard and addressed effectively by companies. The guide was developed by MAC’s International Social Responsibility Committee, with some assistance from the Office of the CSR Counsellor.

A site-level GM is the formal method of accepting, investigating and responding to community issues and concerns. The underlying precept for developing and implementing GMs is the fact that local communities deserve a forum to express their concerns and have the right to remedy them.

In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the value of site-level GMs as effective business and relationship tools. The work of Professor John Ruggie, the Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary-General on Business on Human Rights, explicitly identified them as an essential community relations tool and advocated their use to ensure and demonstrate that businesses are respecting human rights.

Despite widespread recognition of the value of site-level GMs, uptake has been slow within the global resource development industry.  When properly designed and implemented, taking into account the views and concerns of local communities, they help to build trust and social license. To encourage the use of site-level GMs, MAC’s guide addresses common implementation barriers that are often associated with jurisdictions that suffer from weak governance. The guide also advises on how companies can develop systems that place grievances into the broad spectrum of community concerns and incidents. 

The development of this guide is part of MAC’s focus on improving corporate social responsibility practices abroad by building capacity within the global mining industry.  The guide is freely available on MAC’s website and is available here.


MAC launches new Canadian Mining advertising campaign

 

This fall, MAC kicked off its latest ad campaign promoting the contributions of the Canadian mining industry, which is currently in market in the National Capital Region.

The ads feature minerals and metals’ connection to green energy, such as solar panels and wind turbines, as well as contemporary products like medical technologies and modern transportation.

Several ads highlight examples of reclamation, profiling land that has restored and returned to nature after the mining activity ended. For Canada’s mining companies, reclaiming the land we borrow is not just a legal obligation, it’s a responsibility that we take as seriously as creating jobs, building vibrant communities and generating billions of dollars in tax revenues.

Also featured are diverse, and highly-skilled mining jobs that showcase the mining industry’s role as a major direct and indirect employer, including its record as a leading employer of Aboriginal Canadians.


Call for nominations: 2016 TSM Excellence Awards 

 

MAC is accepting nominations for the 2016 TSM Excellence Awards, which includes the TSM Community Engagement Excellence Award and TSM Environmental Excellence Award, until January 30, 2016. 

Established in 2014, the TSM Excellence Awards recognize innovative projects and initiatives annually that expand and promote sustainable development within the mining sector. The 2016 winners will be announced at the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum’s (CIM) Awards Gala in May. 

The Awards’ selection committee, comprising members of MAC’s national Community of Interest (e.g. stakeholder) Advisory Panel, will select finalists based on criteria such as innovation, involvement of and engagement with communities, and project outcomes. TSM performance will also be considered as an indicator of the company’s ongoing commitment to corporate responsibility. 

For more information about the TSM Excellence Awards and the nomination process, please visit www.mining.ca/tsm-excellence-awards.
About the Mining Association of Canada (MAC)
 
MAC is the national organization for the Canadian mining industry.  Its members account for most of Canada’s production of base and precious metals, uranium, diamonds, steel making coal, mined oil sands and industrial minerals and are actively engaged in mineral exploration, mining, smelting, refining and semi-fabrication.
 
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