New Gold regularly engages with communities of interest through national and international organizations and initiatives as well as industry associations. Our communities of interest are groups or individuals who have an interest in our business and operations, are impacted by our business or operations, or may have an impact on our business or operations. We are vigilant in tracking how people and organizations are affected by our activities and understanding and addressing their concerns, and look for opportunities to address their interests. We seek to maintain open dialogue with all individuals and groups who express an interest in, or may potentially be affected by, our activities. We invite comments and suggestions about our approach to social responsibility, as well as the content of this report, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We believe that understanding the social aspects of operations must be based on dialogue with the surrounding communities. We foster transparent and open two-way communication with residents and community leaders, beginning with initial exploration and development, and continuing through the mine’s life and final closure. It is important to understand our local stakeholders and their needs and concerns, so that we can truly engage and contribute to long-term social, cultural and economic development.
To know and understand our communities of interest, our sites use stakeholder mapping techniques. Each site’s stakeholder map contains relevant groups and individuals, and include local, regional and sometimes international stakeholders. Throughout our sites, the key communities of interest identified have included local community members, local government and regulators, Indigenous communities and organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious groups, educational and health agencies and organizations, chambers of commerce and other business and industry associations and organizations.
All of our sites have established community engagement and communication plans, and use context-appropriate mechanisms to create opportunities for two-way communications with their communities of interest. These plans are based on an in-depth understanding of the socio-economic and cultural context where they operate and follow criteria established in our Community Engagement and Development Standards. As a result, the engagement activities vary depending on the site and include broad community as well as small interest group meetings, workshops, site visits/tours and open houses.
As an example, at Cerro San Pedro, engagement activities include meetings with leadership of Ejidos (Mexican system of communal land tenure), regular community meetings, household visits, presentations at schools, tours of the mine site and meetings with interest groups. The Cerro San Pedro team is an active participant in local cultural and economic development initiatives. Through its staged closure, the mine continues to engage with local communities and government agencies to maintain two-way communication regarding closure activities, social development and infrastructure improvement programs.
Another example – the Blackwater project is currently in the analysis stage of an Environmental Assessment Process with both the Provincial and Federal governments. The process addresses the potential environment, economic, social, heritage and health effects of the project. The process provides opportunities for public comments about potential effects. We have held regular community meetings, information sessions and open houses, focus groups with health and education agencies and business organizations, community leaders’ meetings, economic development and citizen forums. Regular engagement with several Aboriginal groups and organizations also continues as a critical part of the project’s engagement program.
Blackwater has also established an advisory forum, the Community Liaison Committee to help identify interests and concerns and provide recommendations for developing policies, plans and programs throughout the life of the mine. Members are locally elected officials, economic development officers, school and college representatives, a social service agency and an environmental group. The Community Liaison Committee meets regularly to discuss issues of importance to the region. Members have discussed operational shift scheduling, community health, post-secondary education and skilled labour attraction and retention, and we continue working together to maximize benefits and opportunities to the local region.
New Gold has established external feedback mechanisms at all mines and projects. These mechanisms consider local culture and social context and encourage community members to provide feedback or make formal complaints directly to our teams while allowing for privacy and anonymity as appropriate.
New Gold also supports employees who want to be active participants in our host communities. Our employees become involved at every level of civil society – with local and regional government, business, schools, healthcare and recreational organizations. Over the year, our sites and employees also volunteered at various cultural and sporting events, community clean-up activities, and initiatives to encourage recycling and healthy lifestyles.
Formalized External Feedback Process – Complaints Received1
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All complaints received through our formal mechanisms were addressed within timeframes prescribed by each site’s procedures.
The Rainy River project started its formal process to receive and address external feedback in 2015. As expected, the intensity of the activity at the project construction site in an area with little previous mining activity was a rich source for valuable feedback from the local communities. At Rainy River, we received complaints associated with a variety of issues, the majority of these complaints were due to the conditions of roads and driving and the impact of construction activities on private property. Other complaints were related to noise, vibration, light and safety. Through 2016, the feedback received has contributed to much of the site’s engagement activities and continual work with employees and contractors to address local communities’ concerns and opportunities.
At our Peak Mines site, there was an increase in the number of complaints regarding vibration emanating from mining activities. Although there has not been any breach of licence conditions in relation to the vibration, the company decided to form a committee to find ways to minimize even further any vibration that may be felt by our neighbours.
At Blackwater, a complaint was made in regards to the use of private property for conducting field work for fisheries studies. We addressed the incident immediately and have made adjustments to our internal and external communications practices. We understand that sometimes the resources we need for important studies, such as helicopters and other equipment, can be distressing to neighbours, particularly those with cattle. We regret any incidents or miscommunication and are committed to working with our contractors to timely and accurately communicate with our neighbours about details of any work planned in close proximity or at their properties.