Centerra recognizes the diversity of Indigenous groups on the lands on which we operate and respects the rights, lands, traditions, culturally sensitive areas, values, interests and aspirations of these Indigenous groups.
We work in partnership and close cooperation with Indigenous groups to ensure their effective representation and input on our proposed activities. We are committed to working in a relationship of care, respect, understanding and trust and to ensuring our work promotes the full realization of the social, economic and cultural rights of Indigenous groups.
Centerra’s principles and values with respect to engagement with Indigenous peoples include:
- Build respectful relationships through early, inclusive dialogue and collaborative engagement processes
- Integrate information from the results of Indigenous engagement to inform our management plans, in consideration of cultural heritage and environmental stewardship, and request Indigenous groups to review our plans
- Support local content opportunities that provide Indigenous groups with benefits from our operations, including training and education
- Create shared value with our Indigenous partners and local communities, support their development priorities and provide strategic social investments to build long-term self-reliance
- Fair access to employment, procurement and business development
Timely and proactive engagement occurs with all Indigenous groups that may be affected by Centerra’s operations or activities in British Columbia, often above and beyond government-led consultation.
In addition to engagement, Centerra Gold has a number of agreements in place with Indigenous groups in Canada. At Mount Milligan, a Socio-Economic Agreement was signed with McLeod Lake Indian Band in 2010, and in 2016 an Impact Benefit Agreement was entered into with Nak’azdli Whut’en. To support the advancement of the Kemess Underground Project, a comprehensive Impact Benefit Agreement was signed in 2017 with Tsay Keh Nay, a collective of three Indigenous groups.
As of 2021, the success of our Pre-Employment Training and Education Readiness (PETER) program in partnership with the McLeod Lake Indian Band, Nak’azdli Whut’en, and College of New Caledonia has resulted in five graduates from the Nak’azdli Whut'en First Nation group starting work placements at Mount Milligan.
Feedback and Grievance Mechanisms
Centerra provides communities of interest, project-impacted stakeholders and Indigenous groups with an accessible community-based mechanism through which they can provide feedback and raise grievances.
Our mechanism is intended to apply to all local stakeholders and groups at any stage of our operations or related activities, including exploration, operation, care and maintenance, and closure. The mechanism is intended to provide a framework for teams to define effective remedies for both collective and individual community grievances.
To ensure the effectiveness of our grievance mechanism, we define clear levels of responsibility throughout the Company and detail an accountability framework for all Centerra personnel.
Centerra’s community relations teams monitor, track, and evaluate engagement activities by documenting and reviewing all feedback and grievances received through a variety of channels, including community meetings, community offices, company and community events, conference presentations, and phone or email.
We recognize that grievances may indicate more systemic or deep-rooted issues. Consequently, senior management is responsible for reviewing the grievance register on a monthly basis to ensure that necessary redress is provided in a timely and respectful manner.
Based on experience, we believe that if no grievances are being received then this is a likely indication that the system is either inaccessible to stakeholders or is not trusted and needs to be reviewed and revised. We consistently evaluate the effectiveness of the grievance mechanism to ensure that it reaches our local communities, and that it is seen as transparent and trustworthy.
Our grievance mechanism is built on nine key pillars that have been adapted from the effectiveness criteria included in John Ruggie’s “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect, and Remedy’ Framework”:
- Legitimacy: Stakeholders must view the mechanism as legitimate and trust that it is accountable.
- Engagement and dialogue: Local stakeholders should be involved in the design of the mechanism to ensure it is acceptable, respectful of local cultural and/or religious norms and inclusive of local/customary decision-making processes.
- Proportionality: Mechanism must be tailored to fit the scale of the project or operation, the severity of the potential adverse impacts and the likely frequency/seriousness of potential complaints, community confidence in the national legal system, and the extent of any historic negative legacies.
- Accessibility: Mechanism must be straightforward and easy for community members to access with no cost, be in the local language, and be publicized through culturally appropriate channels.
- Equitability: Mechanism and process must ensure fairness for all, including vulnerable groups and regardless of gender.
- Predictability: Mechanism must provide a clear and known timeframe for each stage and clarity on the types of mechanisms and outcomes that can and cannot be offered.
- Transparency: The process (especially the receipt of complaints) and the key elements of outcomes must have sufficient transparency to meet our stakeholder concerns and expectations.
- Rights compatibility: Mechanism and process must comply with internationally recognized human rights.
- Continuous improvement: Regular monitoring of the grievance mechanism and its outcomes, particularly of trends and patterns, is critical to ensuring we identify systemic problems and adapt our practices accordingly.
Centerra commits to communicating with local stakeholders on the status of a grievance review within 30 days, at the maximum, from the date of registering the grievance.
A key part of our stakeholder engagement process is ensuring that project-affected communities are fully consulted on activities that will impact their physical settlements or economic livelihoods and building capacity so that communities can properly participate in the resettlement process and provide meaningful input.
At our Öksüt Mine, the permitted area resulted in a restriction of access to existing informal land users, predominantly seasonal livestock herders who used the area as communal pastureland. Through a rigorous stakeholder identification process and ongoing and transparent community engagement, we enabled communities to provide meaningful input and participate in the development of the Livelihood Restoration Plan (LRP) to address the economic displacement caused by our activities.
Key aspects of the LRP included providing income-generating activities for users of the pastureland. For example, 10 pastoralist households were provided with about 30 hives each, along with beekeeping equipment. Over a period of six months, 2,450 kg of honey was produced from 311 beehives. In addition, the LRP provided agricultural equipment support for users of the pastureland, funding for animal watering pond improvement and new pond construction, and support for access road renovations at the pasturelands.
Through the beehives, each household earned US$1,887 in net income through sales of honey over six months.