The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada is holding its annual convention between March 3-6, 2013.  CCIB Solutions attended the convention, with particular interest in the CSR event series.

On Sunday March 3, 2013 we heard speakers representing the Government of Canada, specifically from CIDA and Natural Resources Canada.  We also heard Marketa Evans from the Office of the CSR Counsellor and representatives from the CSR Center for Excellence.

CSR initiatives may no longer optional in the mining sector

On March 4, 2013 we heard about specific CSR interventions by Noront Resources Ltd and Asanko Gold Inc.  Panelists that discussed the case studies included representatives from first nations communities, Mining Watch, Goldcorp, the Schulich School of Business, Kinross Gold and former employees of Export Development Canada.

Here are a few of the aspects we found interesting:

  1. Over 220 participants attended the first session that kicked off the CSR series.  The second day, the room was completely full, with standing room only in the back and at least 30 people chose to stand in the back and continue listening.  This level of engagement with the topic of CSR shows the importance of this type of initiative.
  2. CSR initiatives may no longer optional in the mining sector – this was repeated several times by panelists, speakers and participants.
  3. Despite all of the interest and importance of CSR – the concept itself is not clearly or commonly understood by all involved.  There are differing opinions regarding whether CSR activities should fill vacuums created by governance failures in countries or whether they should be linked to the core business of the company applying them.
  4. Increasingly, partnerships are required to implement effective CSR initiatives, particularly when the expertise required to help a community is not within the core mandate of a mining company.
  5. There is increased pressure on junior mining companies to invest in CSR for the future, and senior mines are using the quality of CSR investment as a decision-making factor when selecting which junior mines to invest in.
  6. CIDA identified four challenges that developing countries must overcome in order to benefit from CSR investment:  Governance issues, Economic Diversification, Company responsibility and Addressing the informality in the mining sector.
  7. A key challenge when implementing a CSR initiative in partnership with others is to have clearly defined roles and expectations.  NGOs, governments, communities and the company must understand the role each of the others plays in order to be successful.  This may seem quite straightforward but takes a significant amount of investment in time
  8. Asanko Gold’s approach using the concept of “shared value” proved to be particularly successful.  It allowed the company to develop success metrics in a way the industry could relate to.  In particular two were discussed: the leverage on sustainable investment and the financial return on sustainable investment.  We will discuss the concept of “shared value” in greater detail in our blog next week.
  9. The government of Canada has used four guidelines to develop the standards they will be implementing in the Canadian mining sector: The OECD standards for MNCs, IFC performance standards, Voluntary principles and the Global Reporting Initiative.  Interestingly, the government is looking to move towards standards that have implementation tools – reinforcing the idea that current standards are very high level and strategic, but not necessarily tactical.
  10. All successful CSR interventions presented at this event series had at least one thing in common – open communication and transparency.  Getting this right from the beginning determines the amount of success any project will have.

 

Did you attend PDAC 2013?  What aspects raised your interest the most?