Promoting dialogue across the territory
We are convinced that maintaining good relations with communities in the areas near our operations requires an innovative approach to communications and how we contribute to their welfare. This is why we continue to advance the implementation of our community engagement process, with the aim of building a shared vision for local development.
Performance & Reports
Antofagasta Minerals believes in contributing to the sustainable development of the areas and communities in which it operates. This means understanding the area’s challenges and becoming part of the solution by deepening the engagement processes aimed at building a shared vision in order to foster local development.
This approach is consistent with stakeholders’ expectations and is aligned with our corporate values and approach to human rights and adherence to the ICMM principles.
Antofagasta Minerals operates in very different geographic regions in Chile. Centinela, Antucoya and Zaldívar are located in the north of the country, in the Atacama Desert, in an area with a history of mining and with a low population density.
Los Pelambres is located in the Coquimbo Region, in the central part of the country. Its operation is across the Choapa Valley, from the mountains to the sea, which is home to over 80,000 people in 42 communities, working in agriculture, farming, artisanal fishing and tourism.
This geography, along with changing social expectations, has made the challenges facing the mining industry in its coexistence with local communities more complex for Los Pelambres than for the operations in the north. The Group has therefore reframed its approach with a new community engagement process, being rolled out across all of the operations.
Key concerns in the Coquimbo Region are water scarcity, coexisting with mining operations and human safety in case of emergencies. To manage these concerns and find joint solutions, Antofagasta Minerals participates in various forums with local stakeholders. In 2016, the Group made progress on the commitment to hold discussions with the community regarding these issues, and reached several important agreements.
Since the incorporation of Zaldívar, the Group has intensified its existing relationship with the indigenous communities in the Peine area to maintain a respectful and mutually beneficial relationship reinforced by dialogue and understanding.
In order to sustain an ongoing relationship with communities, the Group’s operations use various formal communication mechanisms, such as discussions with residents, working groups, meetings, joint monitoring, community visits to the mines and the use of media, websites and social networks. It also has a system to ensure the follow up on commitments undertaken with the community and to investigate and respond to any complaints.
In 2016, grievance management and social and environmental commitment procedures were standardised across the Group. Most of the 87 grievances received in 2016 related to unpaid contractors and subcontractors’ invoices.
Antofagasta Minerals has transformed the way it interacts with its neighbours, prioritising open dialogue with local communities and other stakeholders in the area, building a shared vision for development, and promoting varied projects and programmes to realise this vision. This new approach was first applied at Los Pelambres and its surrounding area under the name ‘Somos Choapa’.
Using the principles of dialogue, collaboration, traceability, excellence and transparency, this process establishes a methodology to maintain ongoing dialogue with communities, authorities and other stakeholders, reducing information asymmetry and offering space for all parties to participate in decision making. Somos Choapa represents an integrated platform for the sustainable development and a joint opportunity for public and private investment in the short, medium and long term.
In 2016, progress was made on the implementation of the project portfolio derived from the Somos Choapa initiative and on the inclusion of the municipality of Los Vilos into this dialogue. There was also progress in the Antofagasta Region around participative dialogue for community engagement with the residents of Calama Poniente.
Tailings dams and other Group facilities are designed to withstand the impact of earthquakes and extreme weather. In case of emergency, the operations have coordinated with the relevant public services and local authorities on emergency procedures and action plans. These include preventive measures at operational level, such as the suspension of operations when recommended, and providing assistance for residents.
A key topic for discussion between Los Pelambres and the residents of Caimanes, which began at the end of 2015, was their demand for better information and increased participation in the design of these emergency plans. In 2016, progress was made on updating the Emergency Manual for the Mauro dam and on the safety works.
Participative Design of a Contingency Plan
Los Pelambres had already initiated a dialogue with communities around the Mauro tailings dam when in September 2015 an earthquake measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale hit the area, its epicentre just 90 km from the dam. A few hours after the earthquake, the mine invited local leaders to personally inspect the dam wall and they were able to see it was undamaged.
In accordance with Chilean legislation, the dam had an operational emergency plan in place to care for its employees, residents and the environment. This plan is set out in the dam’s emergency manual, approved by Sernageomin. However, the experience of the September 2015 earthquake reinforced the idea that a participative process was required in order to take into account the Caimanes residents’ concerns and suggestions.
As a result of this dialogue between the community and Los Pelambres, in 2016 a Contingency Plan was designed for Caimanes which complements the emergency manual. The main points of this plan are:
- Setting a new safety zone in Caimanes and installing signage and lighting to improve access and the evacuation of the community to this zone in case of emergency.
- The installation of an audible alarm system to warn the community in case of an evacuation.
The above is supplemented with three containment works or gabion walls around the Pupío stream, also provided for in the Agreement.
The implementation of the Contingency Plan is progressing according to plan.