ICMM updates mine-community relations guide to reflect investors’ pressure

Newmont Goldcorp walked away from its $5 billion Conga copper and gold project in Peru in 2016, due to relentless community opposition. (Image courtesy of Golda Fuentes | Flickr.)

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) released on Tuesday a new version of its guidelines on handling grievances in mining-affected communities amid increased pressure for miners to carry out socially-responsible investments and operations.

Originally published in 2009, the new version outlines good practices on how mining and metals companies should design effective mechanisms to handle and resolve community concerns and objections. It also provides practical tools to support companies with implementation.

Improved guidance integrates the eight effectiveness criteria of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

“Effective grievance mechanisms are a key part of a company’s responsibility to respect human rights and can benefit both the company and host community by providing channels for resolving issues and building trust,” ICMM chief executive, Tom Butler, said.

The document’s release on Human Rights Day, which commemorates the day, in 1948, on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not coincidental.

The upgraded guidance integrates the eight effectiveness criteria of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

It aims at reinforcing miners’ commitments to environmental and social governance (ESG), which according to consultancy McKinsey, influence about a quarter of global funds’ decisions. 

“In an industry with a checkered history of accidents, environmental disasters and eye-watering corruption scandals, is seems that the balance is finally starting to tip in favour of ‘good’ ESG,” Jonathan Brooks, head of Mining and Metals at European law firm Fieldfisher, recently wrote.

Miners have been taking note. According to an annual study published by consultancy Ernst & Young (EY) in October, almost half of the global mining and metals executives interviewed believe that losing social support, or social licence to operate (SOL), is the main risk the industry faces these days.