Our blog post Understanding Mine Closure (Posting date: April 24, 2012) sparked a lot of interesting discussion on Twitter and other social media outlets, notably from CAMIGUA and Amnesty International Canada. We’ve also been having the conversation with several stakeholders in other forums for some time, and continue to welcome and appreciate the feedback. To continue the dialogue, we are providing this response to the broad themes discussed, including comments around Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
For those who may not be familiar with FPIC, it is an international principle that seeks to ensure that indigenous peoples have a meaningful role in evaluating development projects that may affect the indigenous peoples’ traditional lands or lifestyles. At the core of FPIC is the duty of the state to consult with indigenous peoples with the objective of obtaining their consent. However, at present there is no accepted process for consulting with indigenous peoples, nor is there agreement on what ‘consent’ is or means. There are many unanswered questions: Who can give consent and on behalf of whom? Is consent an ongoing process or does it have a specified start and end time? How do you know when you have consent? A great deal of work still needs to be done and Goldcorp is ready and willing to participate in the process of improving all parties’ understanding and practices surrounding FPIC. As the understanding of FPIC evolves, Goldcorp will continue to engage in open, transparent, and constructive dialogue with interested stakeholders, including indigenous peoples.
At Goldcorp, our vision is “Together, Creating Sustainable Value.” We strive for shared value with stakeholders at and around all of our operations and projects. That means taking into consideration the needs of the community and engaging with all stakeholders to come up with a plan that helps meet the interests of everyone involved, including future generations after the mine has stopped operating. Our engagement strategies are developed specifically around the individual community, taking into consideration its unique social, cultural, political, and economic environment.
We understand that no two communities are alike. Our stakeholders include community members and representatives, indigenous groups and leaders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies, religious organizations and others. Our goal is to build trusting, communicative relationships. We believe it’s the only way to conduct a successful business. As Goldcorp’s CEO Chuck Jeannes said at the company’s recent annual meeting of shareholders: “We will do the right thing, and that will be good for business.”
Below are three examples that highlight our current approach to stakeholder engagement and consultation when it comes to mine closure and reclamation.
Marlin Mine, Guatemala
The Marlin Mine is currently engaged in the permitting process for a revised development plan as it transitions to an underground operation after surface mining operations were completed in late 2011. The plan reduces the land area affected by mine facilities, is expected to further reduce closure costs, and will advance sustainable reclamation earlier and during operations. As part of the permitting process, Goldcorp is consulting with local communities, which includes indigenous groups, regarding the revised plan to close the surface mine, incorporating internationally recognized best practices. The consultation process is one element of the site’s engagement with the local elected mayor and municipal council and the community appointed indigenous or auxiliary mayors. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, which is the government agency responsible for reviewing and approving the revised plan, also participated in the process. The participation of the government is essential to inform the government of local perspectives and to enable the government to comply with its duty to consult.
San Martin Mine, Honduras
The San Martin Mine entered the closure and reclamation phase in 2008. During the closure planning period for the mine, extensive consultation was carried out with various NGOs, local communities and government departments. The closure plan was presented at various community meetings and copies of the full closure document were made available. Christian Roldan, former Operations Manager at San Martin, explains: “All local stakeholders were provided opportunities to share their concerns, questions and observations with Goldcorp and the mining authority in Honduras. The team at San Martin formally responded to the issues raised by the communities and, wherever possible, changed the closure strategy to address their concerns.” These changes resulting from stakeholder consultations were incorporated into the closure plan presented to the government which was then approved. The former mine site has been successfully converted from an operational mine to a hub of economic development activity, including a 31-room ecotourism hotel with several amenities surrounded by a forest with a wide-range of wildlife species. The area is also home to a teaching production farm that includes animals, fruit trees and indigenous plants that may be a source of biofuel. For more information on the reclamation at San Martin, please watch this short video.
Porcupine Mine, Ontario, Canada
The Porcupine Mine in Timmins has developed an innovative approach to stakeholder engagement and consultation, which helped earn it a reclamation award in 2011. The process began in 1999 with the formation of the Porcupine Watchful Eye community stakeholder committee to support the mine’s sustainability policy. The committee’s main goal is to recognize and understand the requirements, expectations and concerns of all of Porcupine’s stakeholders. The committee reviews issues and concerns, and then works with the mine management to develop strategies that help create shared value between the local communities and the company. The work of the Porcupine Watchful Eye includes consultation around the historic Coniaurum gold mine (not owned by Goldcorp at that time) that closed 50 years ago when a major storm led to a breach in the tailings dam. Restoration work has since stabilized the site, stopped suspended solids from the tailings area entering the Porcupine River and promoted other uses of the property. The site now hosts diverse native plants, provides habitat for wildlife, and is a basis for engagement with local Aboriginal communities on the integration of traditional knowledge and practices with modern rehabilitation techniques. Goldcorp was recently awarded the Tom Peters Memorial Mine Reclamation Award for the Coniaurum work.
For more information on our mine closure and reclamation work please visit our website here.
Please continue to send us your comments and suggestions.
 Article 32 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides that: “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.”