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 as well as impacts to those who depend on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). The right to an adequate standard of living is one of our salient human rights issues, and we are committed to managing and mitigating the risks 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 or resettlement is stated in our Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Policy, and our Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement Standard 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. If alternatives are not available, we work to ensure affected people and communities are able to make informed decisions; adverse impacts are minimized; and livelihoods and living conditions are restored or improved.
Prior to any resettlement activities, we work with local stakeholders to develop a resettlement action plan (RAP), which addresses the impacts of physical displacement, and/or a livelihood action plan (LAP), which addresses 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 first-of-its-kind 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
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) provides subsistence for more than 100 million people – including workers and families across the ASM value chain. Although many ASM activities are considered illegal and use mining methods that pose significant safety and environmental risks, increasingly, governments, policy makers 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 governments, communities and other stakeholders in a manner that respects human rights and livelihoods and promotes responsible ASM.
Currently, ASM activities take place on or near four of our operations – Ahafo and Akyem in Ghana, Merian in Suriname, and Cripple Creek and Victor (CC&V) in the U.S. ASM in Ghana and Suriname are often viewed as sustainable livelihoods, whereas ASM in the U.S. context is often a more recreational activity. Our exploration teams also encounter ASM activities.
Our global ASM strategy helps us explore, develop and operate in places where small-scale miners work. Feedback from external stakeholders – such as the need to address the middle part of the supply chain and the role of women in the ASM sector – is reflected in the strategy, which has four main objectives:
- Security – Ensure safe and secure access to Newmont’s assets, interests and concessions in proximity to ASM activities to minimize conflict between ASM and Newmont;
- Performance – Manage our environmental, social, security, health and safety risks and impacts caused by ASM activities to ensure compliance and protect our reputation;
- Livelihood development – Create greater stability by collaborating to empower and improve livelihood options associated with the local economy; and
- Influence, learn and align – Monitor, engage and influence improved 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.
Our cross-functional ASM working group ensures alignment across regions and functions, facilitates knowledge sharing and identifies potential partnerships. All sites and exploration projects with an ASM presence must identify risks and opportunities and develop action plans to address any gaps between existing practices and the strategy.
In Suriname, where we operate the Merian mine, we entered into a Cooperation Agreement with the Pamaka community, which states 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.
We engage with governments to identify land in our licenses to set aside for responsible, legal ASM, and we collaborate with international experts and organizations, as well as national and local governments and universities, to help legitimize ASM and improve safety and environmental protections.
In 2017, no resettlement activities took place at any of our operations.
At Akyem, livelihood restoration activities for previously resettled households continued, most notably in the Yayaaso community where a 20-acre palm oil plantation and a planned processing plant will provide support for farmers. To improve food security and provide a potential source for the site’s catering company, we trained 125 farmers in the resettlement area on establishing crop farms.
Newmont supported the following projects conducted by the University of Queensland’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining on behalf of the Mining, Resettlement and Livelihood Research and Practice Consortium:
- A comparative analysis of the legal and regulatory frameworks of six active mining economies with the goal of providing a basis for shaping future resettlement laws and regulations;
- Significant expansion of the first global database on mining resettlement events (from 41 to more than 200 records) to better analyze patterns, influence industry policy and practice, provide near-mine communities with information about what they can expect in the event of resettlement, and preserve knowledge and understanding of resettlement issues; and
- Development of a draft training workbook on resettlement risks and the Impoverishment Risks and Reconstruction (IRR) model, and a discussion paper on livelihoods and food security.
Artisanal and small-scale mining livelihoods
In both Ghana and Suriname, we held regional ASM workshops with corporate, regional and site leaders as well as international ASM experts and government and industry representatives. The workshops focused on improving our understanding of ASM conditions around our operations with the goal of updating our implementation plans in 2018.
Key insights from the workshops include the need to raise awareness with the government and communities about our ASM strategy and the environmental and social impacts of illegal mining. We also recognized ASM is very fluid and requires an improved approach for engaging with both miners and organizations working with and supporting ASM activities.
These findings, along with stakeholder feedback, are being incorporated into regional and site action plans that include:
- Mercury management – Developing technologies and partnerships that keep mercury out of small-scale mining, use mercury safely in small-scale mining and/or create processing partnerships to reduce overall impacts;
- Engaging experts – Building relationships with thought leaders and ASM experts to employ emerging practices in our mining areas and forming partnerships to improve engagement with ASM miners; and
- Livelihood mechanisms – Exploring approaches to both support ASM livelihoods and identify where alternative livelihood approaches can successfully replace income streams.
In 2015, Newmont supported the University of Applied Science and Technology of Suriname, School of Mining on developing gold recovery methods for miners that minimize the use of mercury while improving the recovery of gold. The results of these studies were analyzed during 2017 to determine feasibility and likelihood of use by local miners. In many cases, gold recoveries were enhanced using the technology. However, ASM miners require a processing technology that is more mobile. We will continue to explore opportunities to improve recovery and reduce environmental impacts.
We also partnered with the University of Suriname on an independent monitoring and evaluation program related to our biodiversity offset, which focuses on the restoration of areas within Merian’s Right of Exploitation (RoE) that have been impacted by ASM.
During the year, we held discussions with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on participating in a project that focuses on how mercury is used in the ASM sector, policy frameworks that decrease mercury use, and technologies that replace mercury. The UNDP is interested in including our experience in Suriname as part of the project.
We will continue to execute our global ASM strategy and continue to implement our strategic objectives in those locations where ASM activities take place on or near our operations.
In Ghana, we will roll out a coordinated approach to security; explore and analyze how to integrate livelihood programs into the ASM strategy; and extend our engagement with the government.
In Suriname, we will establish a cross-functional working group to address the outcomes of the 2017 workshop and integrate the ASM strategy deeper into the organization. We will also undertake further mapping of key stakeholders to inform our engagement with ASM.
We will continue to build relationships with ASM operators during the exploration stage of mine development and integrate our approach into stakeholder mapping, engagement plans, community investments and land access in order to fully understand the impact of our presence.