Resettlement and Land Use
We mine where ore bodies are located and when we have the social license and all the required regulatory approvals to do so. At times, mine development results in unavoidable relocation and resettlement of households and/or livelihoods. These resettlement activities can pose significant economic, social and environmental risks – the right to an adequate standard of living being a salient human rights issue associated with our business activities.
Our commitment to assess and respect the rights and needs of landowners and local communities prior to any land acquisition and resettlement activities 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 homes and communities 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 to make informed decisions; adverse impacts are minimized; and livelihoods and living conditions are restored or improved.
Prior to conducting any resettlement activities, we work with local stakeholders to develop resettlement action plans (RAP), which address the impacts of physical displacement, and/or a livelihood action plans (LAP), which address the economic impacts. Sites 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.
We are one of four mining industry partners in the Mining, Resettlement and Livelihood Research and Practice Consortium. Together with the University of Queensland’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, this industry-university working group aims to better understand how resettlement risks are managed, identify strategies to improve livelihood outcomes for those affected by resettlement, conduct research, and help inform policies that lead to more effective practices.
Artisanal and small-scale mining
The actual numbers are difficult to pinpoint because this isn’t a regulated activity, but various accounts indicate there are an estimated 30 to 50 million artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) globally, producing 20 percent of the world’s gold supply. While many ASM activities are considered illegal and informal and use mining methods that pose significant health, safety and environmental risks, ASM provides subsistence for more than 100 million people – workers and families across the ASM value chain. Increasingly, governments, policymakers and international organizations view ASM as an important rural livelihood and are focused on establishing more formal, responsible ASM frameworks.
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 activities take place in our operating areas.
Currently, ASM activities take place on or near four (representing 33 percent) of our operations – Ahafo and Akyem in Ghana, Merian in Suriname, and CC&V in the United States. Our exploration teams also encounter ASM activities.
Through a participatory process with internal leaders and stakeholders who are impacted by ASM, we created an ASM strategy to help us explore, develop and operate in places where small-scale miners work and promote improved ASM practices. The strategy’s four main objectives are:
- Security – Enable safe and secure access to Newmont’s assets, interests and concessions in proximity to ASM activities
- Performance – Manage our environmental, social, security, health and safety risks and impacts caused by ASM activities
- Livelihood development – Collaborate to empower and improve livelihood options associated with the local economy
- Influence, learn and align – Monitor, engage and influence ASM policy and practices and align with the needs of Newmont’s exploration, projects and operations
The strategy helps guide regions and sites on how to characterize and manage related risks through implementation plans that reflect local ASM activities and their proximity to Newmont’s operations.
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.
In 2016, we resettled a total of 36 households due to mine expansion activities at our Ahafo operation in Ghana. Prior to resettlement, an independent survey of crops, immovable properties and land interests was conducted. The process involved community stakeholders including the community’s chief farmer, members of the Resettlement Negotiation Committee (RNC) and officials from the Government of Ghana’s Land Valuation Division of the Lands Commission. The resettlement packages, which included livelihood re-establishment support, were negotiated with the RNC, and the resettlement houses were constructed by local contractors.
In addition to developing and implementing our global artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) strategy, during the year we formed a cross-functional working group to ensure alignment across regions and functions, facilitate knowledge sharing and identify potential partnerships. We engaged with external stakeholders to obtain feedback on the strategy, which identified opportunities to address gaps related to the middle part of the supply chain and the role of women in the ASM sector. The Ahafo and Akyem operations in Ghana, the Merian operation in Suriname and all exploration projects with an ASM presence identified risks and opportunities and developed action plans to address any gaps between existing practices and the strategy.
Included in the Cooperation Agreement signed between Newmont and the Pamaka community in Suriname is our commitment to support the area’s ASM sector where many community members earn their income. This support includes conducting research into safer and more environmentally friendly mining methods and formalizing an engagement approach. Activities in 2016 to support this commitment included:
- Held meetings with ASM miners to discuss processes and procedures for dialogue and to encourage them to organize into a representative stakeholder group; and
- Engaged University of Suriname mining students for practical field work around the Merian site with a focus on mercury-free mining technology for small-scale miners.
In Ghana, we participated in a four-day International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)-led 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.
As a founding member of the Mining, Resettlement and Livelihood Research and Practice Consortium, Newmont provided support for a scoping study conducted by a research team from the University of Queensland’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining. Through interviews with experts in the mining industry, consultancies, international financial institutions and NGOs, the team examined how mining companies currently approach involuntary resettlement. Among the findings from the study are the existence of notable gaps in knowledge, resources, capacity and coordination as well as a clear need to improve performance related to mining and resettlement.
Work will continue throughout 2017 to advance implementation of our artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) strategy. To support the regional action plans, we will hold workshops in Ghana and Suriname to review overall strategic objectives, stakeholder activities and other key elements of the plans. Learnings from these workshops will then be shared with our cross-functional ASM working group with the overall goal of improving the implementation plans and their effectiveness on the ground at each respective site.
Among the projects planned by the industry-university Mining, Resettlement and Livelihood Research and Practice Consortium is a comparative regulatory analysis to identify actions that governments and mining companies can take to improve displacement, resettlement and livelihood restoration policies and practices focused on livelihood approaches.