Dr. Jocelyn Fraser, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, SPPGA and NBK Institute of Mining Engineering
Mr. Zorigtkhuu Bat-Erdene, MASc. Student, UBC and NBK Institute of Mining Engineering
Dr. Nadja Kunz, Assistant Professor, SPPGA and NBK Institute of Mining Engineering
Public participation in mineral resource development is a key to successful projects. Yet questions remain about the “best” approach to securing input during the early stages of mine planning. The design stage is a time when there remains a high degree of uncertainty about the likelihood of developing an operating mine. Yet it is also a time when there is an opportunity to develop core infrastructure – for example, water, roads and energy – in a manner that delivers benefit to nearby communities and supports local sustainable development.
From March – October 2019, UBC researchers from the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and the Norman B Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering investigated community engagement strategies used by industry at the design stage of mining projects. The research project was funded by a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Engage grant. The industry partner for the project was Erdene Resource Development Corp., a Canada-based resource company focused on the acquisition, exploration, and development of precious and base metals in Mongolia.
The results of a literature review, an online survey of engagement practitioners, and two expert panels, led to the conclusion that “best practice” in public engagement is highly contingent upon:
- The intent of the company
- The human and financial resources available
- The time allocated for engagement and the quality of the resulting program
- The capacity of the community to participate.
We predict the industry’s approach to engagement will continue to evolve in the coming years, creating an interesting opportunity for ongoing research. Progression along the spectrum of engagement – or up the ladder of public participation – may arise from individual leadership, redefined corporate purpose, or as a risk management strategy. Increasing pressure from investors to deliver value to all stakeholders – rather than just corporate shareholders – is also likely to be an important consideration for mining companies.
Read their 2018 report: Unlocking Value in the Early Mine Life Cycle