2.1 Exploration

Early exploration activity is not very invasive and may cause little disruption to community life, and exploration geologists and their teams may form good relationships with local communities.

Footnote 2 Once exploration reaches an advanced stage, and track clearing and drilling activities increase, community concerns and expectations may also escalate. Drill rigs may seem like mining equipment to community members unused to mining activity and who may thus have high hopes of sharing in large mining profits, not realising that most exploration projects do not proceed to development and may take decades even if they do. This is a challenging time since, in the earliest stages at least, there is an inbuilt mismatch between the interests of communities who want full information disclosure and a longstanding relationship and the interests of exploration teams who want to keep their data confidential and who will move on if there are no promising prospects for follow-up.

Exploration community engagement and development: example activities

Allocate part of the time of one or more team members to the role of community relations officer (CRO), ensuring that they are appropriately trained in consultation techniques and cultural sensitivity.

Introduce the team to local communities and local government. Establish a dialogue and ensure that the community has a channel for addressing questions and concerns to the exploration team. Provide as much information as possible about the exploration program, including its potential brevity, to manage community expectations. Keep records of stakeholder engagement activities-meetings with whom, dates and main topics discussed, plus any follow-up actions taken. Register any commitments made.

Commission a desktop study of local culture and history and current politics, and on-the-ground mapping of local communities and their main activities. Collect basic demographic data (gendered population structure, health, education and economic status). This can be done by a local university or consultant or perhaps by the CRO if they have research skills.

Ascertain local development priorities from community leaders and local government.

Make sure that community members do not build up false expectations. Do not make promises that cannot be kept. Rehabilitate damage such as drill holes to prevent accidents to stock. Employ local people if possible and buy local products preferentially. If exploration continues for a year or more, invest in local community development programs identified through engagement activities. Ensure that women are included in programs. Ensure that subcontractors follow the same guidelines as your own staff.

If the exploration program continues longer than a year, update the basic demographic data and measure the new indicators against the original baseline set to assess change, especially if the indicators are related to project activities or community programs. Report this to management and share the information with community members.

Footnotes

Footnote 2
Detailed online guidance on best practices in exploration is available via free registration with the PDAC Environmental Excellence in Exploration (E3) resource site at http://www.pdac.ca/e3plus/index.aspx.

Return to footnote 2 referrer

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