Peter Hughes-Hallet
Country Manager and Senior Director of Sustainability and External Relations
Newmont Mexico
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View from the Top

Newmont's Comprehensive ESG Approach Yields Results

By Alejandro Ehrenberg | Fri, 11/13/2020 - 10:34

Q: Why is the agreement with the Cedros community important for Newmont?

A: The most recent dispute with the Cedros community involved outside parties that had no legitimate interest. The first thing we did was to have a conversation with the community and the government and we established that only legitimate stakeholders would be allowed in the negotiation process. Also, we agreed that no negotiations would take place under illegal circumstances, such as blockades.

A year ago, once these conditions were agreed upon, the Mexican government through the Ministry of Interior promoted a dialogue table where they served as mediators and their work was objective and transparent. The first theme that was discussed was water for the community and both parties worked towards a sustainable water plan for Cedros, that includes, wells for domestic and agricultural uses, the construction and operation of a Reverse Osmosis water treatment plant, that will allow the community to have access to potable water, irrigation projects and a sewage water treatment plant.

This is the beginning of a new relationship with the Cedros community. We now have clear guidelines on how to resolve disputes if they arise in the future. The solution with Cedros is sustainable for all involved parties and it allows Newmont to continue exploring. The community wants us to stay in the area for the long run and to achieve that we have to extend the life of the mine. The agreement with Cedros lets us explore in an adjacent area to Peñasquito. Nevertheless, the most significant aspect of the agreement is that it has been validated by the federal and state governments and by the community in a General Assembly that took place on the 15th of August of 2020

Q: How are you including the communities surrounding Peñasquito in the management of the region’s water?

A. Our participatory water monitoring program is an innovative way to achieve this. The program has been running for the past three years. It is a response to the reality that where there is a mine, water is a concern. Some groups that are against mining disseminated misleading information to our communities. We set out to provide accurate information about how we manage the aquifers. We opened up our data to the communities and we also assisted them in recollecting their own samples. We support with funds to an independent group called the Water Center from Tec de Monterrey and to an organization from Canada called Avanzar, to assist the community in sample collection and data interpretation. The communities measure the quality, quantity and the water level of each of their wells. The results are analyzed compared to baseline conditions. Then, the independent experts go back to the communities and explain the results.

Q: How are your efforts to build up the local economy strengthening your social license to operate?

A: Strengthening local procurement is fundamental for a strong social license to operate. It is also important to contribute to the health and vibrancy of the local economy. Newmont Peñasquito has a program called Ideas With Value whereby we intervene in Peñasquito’s communities to strengthen their business capacities. We do this work in conjunction with an independent organization called TechnoServe. The goal is to promote the creation or improvement of small and micro-businesses such as restaurants, hair salons, fruit sellers, warehouses, clothing stores, farms and other businesses. We provide the capital for the business after a thorough and diligent process. If the committee approves it, then the entrepreneur gets funding and business management training. We provide them with the tools to run it successfully. The capital they obtain from us is not cash, for example, chairs, stoves and equipment in the case of a restaurant. Over 60 percent of those entrepreneurs are women. We are breaking gender paradigms in the community and improving their quality of life.

Q: How does Newmont promote gender parity within the company?

A: Inclusion is one of our core values. Our employees have the chance to contribute, develop and work together. We believe that you have to practice what you preach: our Chair of Independent Non-Executive Board Members is a woman and an outstanding professional. Also, we are committed to the program Paradigm for Parity, a movement that promotes parity in corporations. By 2030, there will be parity among our Senior Executives. We have already achieved parity at our Non-Executive Board. Also, the Bloomberg Gender Equity Index has recognized Newmont for actively advancing women in the mining industry. There is scientific data that proves that companies with an inclusive environment, are more innovative, it is good for business. At Peñasquito, our plant manager is a woman and the results are there to back her up.

Q: Has COVID-19 altered the way Newmont approaches ESG practices?

A: The pandemic has enlarged our ESG practices. We had no idea we were going to get hit by the pandemic but the safety and health of our workers and communities have always been paramount and that has not changed. We follow health protocols and communicate transparently through social media and our radio station, which is the only one in the area. In regard to COVID-19, we have conducted roughly 43,000 rapid test samples. If you test positive, you cannot come to the site. We also do PCR testing for those that test positive to the rapid test and we trace all suspected cases. We have partnered with the Health Ministry of Zacatecas to carry out these protocols and to donate equipment like ventilators, tests and masks to health clinics. Newmont created a global fund totaling USD $20 million to this end. The mining industry as a whole has responded admirably and has become part of the solution. There are fewer cases of COVID-19 per capita in Mazapil, where our mine is located, than other municipalities in Zacatecas.

Newmont is the world’s leading gold company and a producer of copper, silver, zinc and lead. The company’s world-class portfolio of assets, prospects and talent is anchored in favorable mining jurisdictions in North America, South America, Australia and Africa.

 

Alejandro Ehrenberg Alejandro Ehrenberg Journalist and Industry Analyst

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