Stakeholder engagement and consultation is vital to securing and maintaining our social licence to operate. A stakeholder is anyone who is interested in or impacted by Centerra’s operations, such as employees, local community members, suppliers, government representatives, and investors. We are committed to ensuring that local stakeholders and project-impacted Indigenous groups are informed about our current activities and future plans. We also seek to listen, learn and share, while also being open to receiving constructive feedback and comments regarding Centerra’s mining activities. Being accountable to community groups with respect to their concerns, issues, expectations and grievances is incredibly important for us.
Our stakeholder engagement and community investment are driven by our site community relations teams, which are often composed of individuals from local or nearby communities who understand regional nuances and the needs of our communities. Engagement begins early on in the project’s development, ideally during the exploration stage, and is guided by best practices from the International Finance Corporation, the International Council on Mining and Metals and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Engagement tools depend on the stage of the project and the requirements of the community but may include one-on-one meetings, community town halls, website/newsletter communication, and/or media. We have developed principles of engagement that are guided by several international standards and conventions. These principles ensure that:
- Issues are identified as early as possible to allow for proactive management
- Community investment activities are aligned with the needs, plans and actions undertaken by local organizations and municipalities
- Meaningful input on Company activities and projects is made possible
- Collaborative solutions to problems are identified and implemented
- Feedback on proposed and/or implemented activities is received within a useful timeframe, and used to enhance/modify our actions
To ensure our stakeholder engagement activities are inclusive of all impacted groups, we are mindful of representation by women, minorities and other vulnerable groups in our engagement and identification activities.
Vulnerable groups can be defined as single-headed households, people with disabilities, refugees, marginalized ethnic groups or other at-risk groups caused by disparities in physical, economic or social health status.
Each summer, Mount Milligan hosts mine tours for local community members. Participants learn about the Company’s employment and training initiatives, environmental management, health and safety programs, and community partnerships. On the tour, community members can speak with mine employees from a number of different departments and ask questions about the mine and the Company’s activities.
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.