Social Performance Generates Positive Impact in CommunitiesBy Paloma Duran | Fri, 08/27/2021 - 12:07
Q: What is Alamos Gold’s approach to building and maintaining positive relationships with local communities?
A: When the industry refers to social practices it generally talks about community relations. However, we prefer to focus on social performance, which is a broader and deeper approach with which we can achieve greater closeness and trust with host communities. In addition, we are initiating a corporate process to develop our sustainability standards to standardize our global operations and thus be able to deliver better social management.
Q: What are the main challenges you face and how does the company address these?
A: One challenge is the social expectation that exists regarding mining. Normally, mining works in communities with high rates of social retrogression, so it is believed that mining should provide residents with benefits. In addition, they have a lack of infrastructure, decent housing, education and healthcare, among others, which makes it difficult for us to approach them, since their needs are more urgent.
Another challenge is the image of mining. There are many myths and prejudices that misinform, and as a result, people believe that mining continues to have irresponsible practices.
The third challenge is that the industry is in the process of transformation as more elements such as ESG are incorporated. In addition, an increasing number of international organizations are using stricter standards and guidelines, which forces us to change and adapt.
Q: What ESG standards are helping Alamos to better approach communities and how?
A: In 2019, the World Gold Council published its Principles for Responsible Gold Mining. Based on those, we carried out a gap analysis to see what we could improve. For community work, we have promoted and implemented ICMM standards and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to reduce inequality among communities. Furthermore, we are developing our own ESG standards for implementation in Alamos’ operations to improve our environmental and social approach.
Q: What employment opportunities does Alamos provide host communities?
A: We want local hiring to become one of our global policies. From the moment we start planning the project, we need to consider what kind of people we need to identify people's capabilities and develop strategies to empower them further.
Likewise, we seek to make gender equality a company policy. One of the main challenges for women is when they decide to be mothers because it generates a different dynamic. As a result, we seek to create conditions according to their needs so that there is compatibility.
Q: What does the company want to improve in its communities in 2021?
A: We want to promote our project in Matarachi. We started to implement it in 2020 but with the pandemic, we got delayed. This year we want to resume it, and especially to develop an urgent basic service. One of our projects is to install a water supply network that meets the WHO standard of 100L per inhabitant per day. In addition, we are working to ensure its good management. On the health side, we are creating several alliances to improve services. Recently, we introduced a Pap smear campaign to the community. It was a challenge due to taboos and misinformation; however, this action can significantly prevent illness and death. On the educational side, we are working to open a high school and award more scholarships.
Q: How is the company working to reduce the negative impacts of the Esperanza Project on local communities?
A: Our social performance approach enables us to identify potential impacts and work with community members to address them. We hold focus groups to inform them about the project but at the same time we collect their comments to improve our communication with them. So far, nearby communities have expressed their acceptance. The challenge remains with civil society organizations and their goal of maintaining green communities. We want to explain to them that there is compatibility between a green future and mining.
Q: How can the industry become more responsible?
A: Mining is everyone´s responsibility. These include universities that develop our professionals, CEOs, stock exchanges, international organizations and consumers, and not just those who work in the sector. We all have to demand best practices and responsible mining at all stages. Mexico is undergoing a major transformation as ESG practices are increasingly being implemented. I believe it is on the right track. The great challenge is that our actions and measures must be compatible with the new challenges of the industry, as well as with the type of industry that we want to have in the future. Only then will we focus better and achieve real change.
Alamos Gold is a Canadian-based gold producer with three operational mines: two in Canada and one in Mexico. In addition, the company has development-stage projects in Canada, Mexico, Turkey and the US.