Rio Tinto and its Kennecott subsidiaries don’t just want a community’s consent to develop a mining project, says Kennecott Exploration’s Matt Jeschke, “We want strong support. …We want people to say we’re better off because this company is here.”
Mining exploration companies which possess a clear strategy and vision of what their presence can do for a community “will go a long, long way” in obtaining community support for their mining project, he told a panel session at the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) conference Monday in Salt Lake City.
Exploration and mining companies seeking community consent for their project must learn to listen to stakeholders’ complaints about mining first, rather than spend community meetings defending the mining industry, he suggested.
Jeschke advised that mining and exploration companies “need to think about what’s important to people.”
Seeking the public’s views and listening to their concerns involves citizens in the mining consent process, which he feels “is the best way” to change individual anti-mining perceptions, he asserted.
However, exploration companies should also not give communities too much hope that a particular project will actually become a mine that will benefit a local community, he suggested.
“We’re not a development agency,” he declared, adding that much too often a mining or exploration company will rush to build a school in a community that has no teachers and no budget to help support education.
Jeschke, who formerly worked for the Business Sustainable Roundtable (BSR) before joining Kennecott, cited Rio Tinto’s Diavik Diamonds as a company “that got it very right from the beginning. The diamond mining operation generated unprecedented business for aboriginal communities.
Meanwhile in Australia, Rio Tinto, the corporate parent of Kennecott has become the second largest employer of aboriginal people in Australia, he noted.