CONTRIBUTING TO COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY DURING MINERAL EXPLORATION: LESSONS LEARNED FROM MESOAMERICA

World Mining Congress
Without conscious effort and understanding, a number of factors peculiar to mineral exploration campaigns conspire against building sustainability in host communities. These include the episodic and transitory presence of an exploration team in the community and the inherent uncertainty of outcomes; most projects fail. Given these circumstances, there is a strong tendency to apply a simple formula of providing employment, pragmatic philanthropy and supporting infrastructure improvements (roads, schools and clinics) to demonstrate that mining provides benefits. Experience in rural native communities of Mesoamerica has shown that it is possible to create positive, sustainable outcomes quite rapidly within communities, which build capacity, improve quality of life and support a strong social license to operate. Success comes from an understanding of community structure and dynamics; engaging with all segments of the community; creating healthy, transparent and accountable relationships based on clearly defined roles and responsibilities; and supporting and strengthening the role of women in a culturally appropriate way. To this are added innovative and culturally appropriate ways of incorporating sustainability through genuine social investment in areas more typically addressed by exploration companies; health, education, and environmental management.
Keywords: Projects; Benefits; exploration; Mineral exploration; Process; Processes; sustainability; Structure; Development;
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