Peter Kinver speaking with employees at the Lagunas Norte mine in Peru
There are greater demands on mines and their owners from neighbouring communities today than ever before, says Peter Kinver, who has 38 years of experience working on nearly every facet of mine operation, from start-up to mine closure. That’s why, as COO at Barrick Gold, he has placed such an emphasis on human capital. Kinver attributes the productivity of Barrick’s South American operations to an approach that balances production and the importance of forging strong relations with employees and communities.
CIM: What element of your job do you get most passionate about?
Kinver: One of the key elements of my job is coordinating the well-being of our 25,000 employees and as many contractors. True, I’m responsible for all our operations – the day-to-day activities and building of the mines – but what I’ve found in my 38 years in the industry is that if community, health, environment, safety and security issues are being taken care of and are going well, production follows. We’re not perfect, the industry isn’t perfect, but we’ve raised our game on these matters and we are focused on continually improving our performance.
CIM: Under your watch, what are some main things you’re working on to improve Barrick’s operations?
Kinver: I’ve invested a lot of time in our training programs. With the help and guidance of Don Ritz, senior vice-president of safety and leadership, we’ve introduced the Courageous Leadership program to focus on health and safety. Through it, our total incident rate has improved 67 per cent in the last five years.
I also put a lot of emphasis on human capital and moving our employees between our operations around the globe. It’s a very good retention tool for key staff. Since the resource sector is booming, it’s essential to keep working on new strategies.
CIM: Last fall at the International World Gold conference you placed some emphasis on South America. Why did you choose to focus on what Barrick is doing there?
Kinver: Barrick is a very global company and each of our operating regions has different strengths and unique challenges. I’m very proud of our South American operations. They’re the front-runners in areas of productivity and one of their key strengths is that they work really well with local communities. Our mines there are almost entirely staffed by locals. Very few expats work there.
Barrick South America has also embraced the fact that new ideas coming directly from our employees on the ground are important. An idea that may seem small at first could potentially save millions of dollars, so recognizing employees who’ve come up with a better way of doing something is vital.