Dozens of resource companies have faced protests over the past decade for alleged environmental and human-rights violations, including Goldcorp, First Majestic Silver Corp. and Fortuna Silver Mines. However, these companies have learned from their experiences and are now recognized as innovators and leaders in CSR.
Goldcorp considers transparency to be a fundamental value – it was the first to commission a formal human rights assessment (HRA) for its Marlin mine in Guatemala, after allegations of abuses came to the attention of socially conscious investors. The company has since addressed 95 per cent of the recommendations of the HRA, including integrating respect for human rights into its management processes. A voluntary increase in royalties helped address community development gaps.
Christine Marks, director of corporate communications for Goldcorp, says community relations have improved significantly in recent years. “The evidence is that [communities] are now welcoming of continuing exploration. They see the benefits of the mine.”
First Majestic has also made progress since being the target of protests at some of its Mexican projects. In response, the company reached out to non-governmental organizations focused on ensuring that local communities benefit from mine development. First Majestic has since earned numerous awards for its collaborative CSR approach.
Fortuna, also active in Latin America, faced protests largely based on fears that its mines would compromise already scarce resources. The company took an innovative approach during construction of its San Jose Mine in Oaxaca, Mexico. Sourcing water from wells and rivers was not an option in the semi-arid region, so Fortuna identified an alternate source, an abandoned greywater treatment plant that channeled raw sewage into a nearby river and polluted the local aquifer. In early 2010, Fortuna signed an agreement to refurbish and operate the plant in exchange for residual greywater to use at its mine. The plant now provides 20 per cent of the mine’s water supply, with the balance from rainwater and recycled water. It also does not pollute the environment, thereby reducing health hazards for neighbouring communities.
Fortuna also took a practical approach at its Caylloma Mine in Peru by providing financial and other support to a nearby trout farm project in 2012. The initial project was such a success that it was expanded into three harvest campaigns in 2014.