Resettlement and Land Use
Humanitarian Engineering program to
evaluate solutions to
improving the safety and health
of artisanal and small-scale mining
resettlement plan for 77 households
near the Ahafo operation
The natural physical location of ore bodies often results in unavoidable disturbances of land used for livelihoods or occupied by households and communities. Physical displacement, relocation and resettlement can pose significant economic, social and environmental risks. The right to an adequate standard of living is a salient human rights risk associated with our business activities. Done poorly, resettlement may cause conflict and increase impoverishment of affected people. However, done well and in collaboration with stakeholders and experts, resettlement can catalyze economic development and improve livelihoods.
Our commitment to assess and address the rights and needs of landowners and local communities prior to any activities involving land acquisition and resettlement is stated in our Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Policy. Supporting this commitment is our Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement Standard, which sets the minimum requirements for activities that require relocation of communities and homes or disruption of livelihoods.
Our approach is aligned with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 5, which states that the first objective is to avoid resettlement. And when alternatives are not available, we work to meet the standard’s requirements to ensure affected people and communities are engaged; adverse impacts are minimized; and livelihoods and living conditions are restored or improved.
To minimize risk and foster trust and mutual respect, for projects where physical or economic displacement is unavoidable, sites must collaborate with local communities to develop a resettlement action plan (RAP) that addresses the impacts of physical displacement, and/or a livelihood action plan (LAP) to address the economic impacts.
Sites are required to regularly monitor and evaluate RAPs and LAPs and annually conduct audits by qualified external experts to ensure activities are meeting the needs of affected persons.
Artisanal and small-scale mining
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is estimated to provide income to more than 100 million people around the world. While legal frameworks allow for responsible and more formalized ASM operations, many ASM activities are considered illegal and informal, and use mining methods that pose significant health, safety and environmental risks, both for the miners and for the surrounding communities. In addition, the relationship between large-scale miners, such as Newmont, and ASM operators has often been characterized by conflict when they operate in close proximity.
Our Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Policy includes our commitment to work with appropriate government, community and other stakeholders in a manner that respects human rights and livelihoods – and promotes improved conditions – where ASM or related activities take place in our operating areas.
We collaborate with international experts and organizations, as well as national and local governments, to help legitimize ASM and improve safety and environmental protections. We also work with governments to identify land in our licenses to set aside for responsible, legal ASM. Currently, ASM activities take place on or near three (representing 30 percent) of our operations – Batu Hijau in Indonesia, Ahafo and Akyem in Ghana – and our Merian project in Suriname.
At our two operations in Ghana and our project in Suriname, we have relinquished land for legal, responsible small-scale mining.
In 2015, we resettled a total of 77 households at our Ahafo operation in Ghana. Prior to conducting the resettlement activities, we hired an independent firm to survey crops, properties and land interests in the affected area. Community leaders, members of the multi-stakeholder Resettlement Negotiation Committee (RNC), and officials from the government's Land Valuation Division of the Lands Commission were engaged in the survey’s data collection process to address any conflicting interests. We negotiated with the RNC on the final resettlement packages, which included livelihood re-establishment support and the commitment to use local contractors to construct the resettlement houses.
Newmont partnered with students and faculty members from the Colorado School of Mines’ Humanitarian Engineering program to research ASM issues at the Merian project and evaluate solutions to help improve ASM health, safety and environmental practices. We also collaborated with the University of Applied Science and Technology of Suriname, School of Mining, to conduct a demonstration for small-scale miners of gravity gold recovery methods that minimize the use of mercury while improving the recovery of gold, and initial feedback from the miners was largely positive.
Newmont participated in several global forums focused on ASM practices and solutions. In 2015, our Suriname team engaged with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) during a visioning workshop to launch the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue Series on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining, which aims to challenge assumptions and explore new ways to create positive change in the sector. We also plan to participate in an IIED-led workshop in Ghana in early 2016.
In 2016, we will develop a global artisanal and small-scale (ASM) strategy to expand our approaches and contributions to collaborative solutions to ASM risk management beyond the human rights commitments we state in our global policies and standards. The strategy will recognize our business need to consistently safeguard our operations to deliver long-term benefits to shareholders, local communities and governments, while contributing some positive impacts for those legitimately engaged in ASM in a manner that respects human rights. While we cannot solve all the underlying social issues that underpin ASM activities, we are committed to promoting healthy livelihoods for those who are affected by our presence, just as theirs affects us. The overall goal is to contribute to improved outcomes for all stakeholders.