Chris Warwick
Country Manager, Mexico
Pan American Silver
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View from the Top

Global CSR Initiatives Find Local Footing,

Wed, 10/21/2015 - 16:19

Q: How do you optimize the impact of CSR initiatives at your three Mexican mining operations?

A: Each community has different interests, priorities, and needs, and these individualities usually set the tone for any CSR program in the area. In 2014, we developed a Community Development Initiative (CDI) Toolkit - an assessment mechanism for our CSR teams to evaluate the efficiency and success of potential projects. This CDI toolkit allows us to test the probability of success and make corrections as needed to the plan based on the initial assessment. The basis of any potential sustainable development project is continuous and close communication with the communities and listening to the ideas and suggestions that come out of these sessions. The goal of all our sustainability projects is that they achieve real change throughout the community and that they create lasting economic and social sustainability.

Q: What are the benefits and challenges of employing members of the communities surrounding your mines?

A: One of the main benefits of employing workers from the local communities is the connection they have to that land, and the pride and ownership they take in their work. These workers feel a more rooted connection to the work that they do and are proud to see the positive economic and social impacts that are generated throughout the region, as it is their home, and the land that they have lived on all their lives. Our workers are excited to see the substantial work opportunities created in areas that were previously economically unproductive. The challenges in some cases are based around capacity building and providing training for workers, since in many cases, mining is a new activity in the region. This means the local community does not have the expertise or skills required to fill the roles needed. In that respect, Pan American Silver spends a great amount of hours training and developing skills in our local teams. This training begins with our younger community members by granting mine-related scholarships that will help to educate potential future workers for our operations. One of the greatest joys is to see how the children of our mine workers come back after university, having specialized in geology, engineering, and other professions much needed by the operations.

Q: How does the communication with communities near your mines in Mexico differ from that with communities in Peru and Argentina?

A: Pan American Silver values the individuality of each community surrounding its operations, but the core values and policies of our CSR work are the same across all of the countries in which we operate. The details of specific projects are based on the dialogue with various stakeholders. Our CSR team spends a great deal of time establishing relationships with all the community members and receiving their input on a regular basis. This information that strengthens the relationships with communities and sets the basis for our CSR work. Whether in Peru, Argentina, or Mexico, we constantly engage and visit the communities surrounding our operations, to ensure these mechanisms are working properly. This is the only way to build strong relationships with such stakeholders.

Q: What means does the company employ in order to monitor the impact its Mexican operations are having on the environment?

A: We have regular monitoring programs for environmental factors like water quality and flow, air quality, soil, biodiversity, and noise. This information allows us to keep check of potential impacts and inform the authorities in our regular reporting. For example, closure planning is a continually evolving process that starts even before construction, when we prepare a feasibility study for a new mine. We obviously increase the level of detail of our closure plans over time, and we also complete an annual estimate of our mine closure liability to meet our financial reporting obligations in Canada.

Q: What resources does the company allocate to improving energy efficiency at its operations?

A: We recognize that energy efficiency not only helps the environment, but that this good business practice also improves our cost structures. Several years ago, we embarked on an energy efficiency program coordinated across our Mexican mines which resulted in significant improvements to efficiency. We are now in the process of connecting the Dolores mine to the national grid, which will improve overall efficiency when completed.