3.8 Community liaison

Liaison between mining companies and the community is important at every point in a mining operation, from the beginning of the proposal stage, throughout the investigative, assessment and approval processes, and throughout the mine’s operation.

Members of the community must be kept informed and involved in the decision-making processes that affect them if a good working relationship is to develop between all involved parties. A good working relationship is the keystone to a win–win approach to avoiding and resolving potential complaints. The implementation of an effective community consultation program will gain public confidence and lead to both a smoother planning and approval phase and a more efficient operational period.

Lack of knowledge and understanding frequently contributes to the community’s fears surrounding a mining proposal. Misconceptions commonly result in objections and difficulties which serve no constructive purpose and promote a spirit of non-cooperation. By providing information and a contact point at the onset of a mining project, and continuing to respond to community concerns, mining companies put themselves in a better position to implement a successful environmental management program. Community consultation and involvement aspects are discussed in the leading practice handbook Community engagement and development (DITR 2006).

As part of a noise and vibration management plan, a mining company must develop a policy for liaising with the community in dealing with noise and vibration issues. The management plan should establish a protocol for handling complaints that will ensure that the issues are addressed and that appropriate corrective action is identified and implemented if and where necessary.

This protocol should be both proactive and responsive. As a minimum, it should involve the following actions (and identify the people responsible for each action).

  • Identify contact persons at all potentially affected properties, and give them a project outline (together with details of the procedures for lodging complaints and the expectations they may have about the response mechanisms that will be implemented).
  • Forward all complaints to the person responsible for handling them.
  • Keep records regarding the source and nature of the complaint.
  • Investigate the complaint to determine whether a criterion exceedance has occurred or whether noise and/or vibration have occurred unnecessarily.
  • If excessive or unnecessary noise and/or vibration have been caused, plan and implement corrective action.
  • Report details of complaints and corrective action.
  • Inform complainants that their complaints are being addressed and (if appropriate) that corrective action is being taken.
  • Carry out follow-up monitoring or other investigations to confirm the effectiveness of the corrective action.
  • Inform complainants of the successful implementation of the corrective action.
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