Stakeholder engagement is key to building investor and consumer trust, according to Deloitte.
Deloitte’s Tracking the trends 2021 report said that there is a trust deficit between the mining industry and its stakeholders, leading to capital starvation and a growing skills shortage.
“ESG mandates have long played a critical role in the mining sector, and nowhere is this truer than in the realm of community relations,” the report said.
According to the report, the mining industry is often judged by its lowest common denominator, meaning if one company falls behind, the consequences extend to the entire industry.
“If an automotive company misrepresents its emissions targets, or an airline suffers a major accident, consumers typically would not shun a whole industry,” the report said. “The mining industry, however, is often judged as a collective – so overcoming the trust deficit could be a collective responsibility.”
Port Hedland Industries Council (PHIC) chief executive officer Kirsty Danby said this was why industry collaborations were so important in contributing to a positive local community.
PHIC members are BHP, Fortescue Metals Group, Roy Hill, Pilbara Ports Authority, Consolidated Minerals, Mineral Resources, and Pilbara Minerals.
“As an industry body, PHIC provides a forum for information sharing and knowledge transfer and assists its members to manage and minimise the impacts of industry through the community,” Ms Danby said.
“By regularly engaging with the Port Hedland community, we are able to find out what matters most to them and contribute to a positive community experience to benefit both the people of Port Hedland and industry.”
“PHIC has an active Community Industry Forum which represents the wider community. This forum provides a trust barometer – which is fluid. Currently mining is well received and accepted as a part of Port Hedland and we receive strong trust, but we know this could turn in an instant if they way we operate doesn’t meet community expectations. Trust continues to be earned by companies, and the wider industry, every single day.”
The Deloitte report said that investing in initiatives that delivered long-term sustainable outcomes was imperative to closing the trust deficit, meaning a shift from traditional stakeholder engagement to stakeholder collaboration.
“Given the fundamental role mining companies play in countless communities around the world, it’s time for them to make evidence-based decisions about which investments and programs are capable of imparting true social impact,” Deloitte Africa energy, resources, and industrials leader Andrew Lane said.
The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) commended industry’s efforts to keep up with community expectations to build trust.
“I am continually impressed with the way our industry addresses public concerns and improving the way we operate to build the trust of the community,” AMEC chief executive officer Warren Pierce said.
“This is something we will need to continue to work on, and AMEC will be shortly launching our new community focused campaign aimed at improving public sentiment towards our industry.”
In the Goldfields region, SO4 won AMEC’s Community Contribution Award 2020 for its partnership with the Wiluna community the Lake Way Sulphate of Potash project.
The partnership was praised for its holistic approach encompassing education and employment for both the community and the company, as well as responding to cultural and community needs.
“Both SO4 and the Wiluna community are benefiting from this partnership by learning from and supporting each other, it truly represents what a partnership should be,” Mr Pierce said.
SO4’s community engagement approach focuses on four key areas:
Port Hedland Industry Council representatives Mark Komene, general manager, Fortescue Hedland Operations, Fortescue Metals Group; Meath Hammond, head of corporate affairs WA, BHP; and Lyle Banks, general manager development and trade, Pilbara Ports Authority; and moderated by Kirsty Danby, chief executive officer, PHIC will be speaking at the WA Mining Club on 21 October 2021 to speak more about Port Hedland and its value to the National, State and Local communities.