Engaging with Our Host Communities
The New Gold Community Engagement and Development Standards guide us to identify our communities of interest, effectively engage and sustain dialogue, and report on performance. They also drive us to look for further opportunities to improve our processes and performance.
We completed implementation of the New Gold Community Engagement and Development Standards across all sites in 2014. The standards are based on several internationally recognized principles and values. At each site, the new standards are being used to guide site-level management systems to ensure that site operations appropriately identify and engage with local communities of interest, respect human rights, identify opportunities for sustainable community investments, and maximize local hiring and contracting.
Our standards also guide our operations to adopt a consistent approach to identifying and controlling social risks and to report progress through audits and assessments. All sites are expected to have an external audit, peer audit or self-assessment annually based on an audit schedule. In 2015, we completed the first peer audit of the new standards.
We added another site (Rainy River) to our feedback system in 2015, completing our goal of having all our sites maintaining formal feedback mechanisms. The mechanisms clearly set expectations for the process, with complaints formalized and feedback provided to the complainant on a regular basis during investigation and when a set of actions is determined.
Formalized External Feedback Process – Complaints Received
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The Rainy River project started its formal process to receive and address external feedback this past year. 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 constant feedback from the local communities. 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. Safety concerns and road conditions accounted for 49% of the recorded complaints, while 20% related to traffic and 16% to noise or vibration.
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 felt by our neighbours.
Hiring local people is one of the ways we address community concerns regarding our contribution to local economies, training and employment. Our New Afton, Rainy River and Blackwater sites are great examples of building local capacity among our local Aboriginal communities and local community members, so that we are able to employ an engaged and skilled mining workforce. In addition to contributing to local economies through employment opportunities, New Gold’s procurement processes provide opportunities to local suppliers and Aboriginal communities.