Community Engagement Best Practice: What’s being recommended and does it work?

CIM Vancouver 2010
Community engagement has become an increasingly
significant and challenging part of mineral
exploration and mine development; indeed,
opposition from communities proximate to a
proposed mine site has been known to derail
technologically- and financially-sound projects.
These cases suggest that mining firms need to
better understand how to engage constructively
with local communities in the pursuit of their
claims. While a range of publications exist
promoting various community engagement strategies,
these recommendations, when viewed as a whole, are
disjointed and largely untested in real
development contexts. This paper offers results
from a two-stage SSHRC-funded study that aimed to
generate a comprehensive and empirically-refined
compilation of community engagement ‘best
practices’. In the first stage, 100+ industry,
NGO, government and academic publications focused
on community engagement practice were reviewed and
synthesized in order to highlight those practices
that are most commonly recommended. In stage two,
the (Canadian) mining industry’s experience with
some of these strategies was reviewed based on
existing case material in order to identify the
extent to which commonly prescribed strategies are
validated in practice. Taken together, it is
apparent that context matters as much as practice
in determining company-community relations, which
supports recent efforts by industry associations
to move beyond platitudes and think about what is
required to make mining work for communities.
Keywords: Mining, Best Practice, Community relations, community engagment
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