Establishing positive and self-sustaining socio-economic conditions in the communities and regions where we operate is one of the cornerstones of our sustainability program. Our contributions to socio-economic development may come indirectly through government payments or directly through local hiring, the purchase of local goods and services, or our community investments. We also focus on opportunities that deliver shared value and meaningful community contributions after a mine has closed.
Across our operations, strategic investment projects have included support for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) development, community health, livelihood restoration projects, development of the agricultural sector, youth and educational programs, and environmental protection projects.
At Mount Milligan, a key responsibility of the Community Sustainability Committee (CSC) is to allocate funding provided through the Mount Milligan Community Project Fund. The fund provides one-time grants of up to C$10,000 to support local community-based organizations working to build capacity in one or more of the following priority areas: education and training, health, environment, community (including economic development) and literacy. Mount Milligan’s CSC meetings are documented, and minutes are publicly available here.
Four-Year Summary of Global Community Investments and Donations (USD)1
1 The 2019 figures include strategic community investments and donations across all our sites, including operations, care and maintenance projects, and development projects. Our strategic community investments and donations at Kumtor totalled US$1.35 million in 2019, compared to US$2.2 million in 2018. This decrease was due to Kumtor sponsoring the third annual World Nomad Games in 2018.
Mount Milligan also enters into strategic partnerships that contribute multi-year funding to local education and environmental initiatives. In 2018, Mount Milligan committed to three years of funding totalling C$45,000 to support a joint initiative between the local school district and the University of Northern British Columbia. The initiative will lead to the creation of an interactive, geospatial watershed portal and a series of co-learning activities for students, educators, and researchers, including more than 10 participating Indigenous groups. Mount Milligan also awards over C$15,000 in academic bursaries to local high school graduates each year.
We also work closely with private enterprises and community-based organizations in our regions to build up capacity of local SMEs in our regions, in order to minimize long-term community dependence on particular mining projects.
We established three micro-credit agencies (MCAs) in the Issyk-Kul region and have provided more than US$2.3 million toward implementing these MCAs since 2006. In 2015, the Djety-Ögüz MCA became financially independent from Kumtor and has continued to provide low-interest loans to SMEs in the region.
Our MCAs have provided 8,200+ loans amounting to close to US$16 million and contributed to the creation of 4,000+ jobs in the region.
In 2019, our Kumtor project collaborated with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency on its “One Village, One Product” (OVOP) initiative. We also co-financed an initiative to create eight felt workshops in the Issyk-Kul region, which earned more than US$145,000. The felt workshops contribute to the livelihoods of more than 2,800 community members. Women employed in the felt goods facilities earn between US$100 and US$300 monthly.