OceanaGold takes a proactive approach to working through concerns, complaints and grievances to foster a greater understanding of and connection with the community.

There is perhaps no one better suited to the role of Community Liaison Officer than Donna Fisher. Donna has lived in the Waihi region for 45 years and has spent 26 of those working at the Waihi Operation. For the last 19 years, she has worked as the Community Liaison Officer, so to say she knows Waihi quite well (the town, people and mine) is an understatement.

“I live and breathe it. It doesn’t matter where I am in town – the doctor, hairdresser or the supermarket – a member of the community will always ask me about what’s happening at the mine,” Donna said.

“But I don’t mind. At a human level, all people really want is someone to talk to, and I’m a good listener,” she said. “The feedback – while not always positive – is always welcome and by contacting me, people know action will be taken.”

Donna’s statement characterises OceanaGold’s approach to concerns, complaints and grievances – even when feedback comes through as criticism, or is a complaint about unavoidable operational impacts, the information is powerful.

Social Performance Advisor, Danielle Crawford, is part of the company’s External Affairs and Social Performance team that develops and manages responsible mining policy and process. She says the company’s operational community engagement teams provide an important conduit for identifying, reporting, and responding to concerns, complaints and grievances.

“Complaints aren’t received negatively, rather they are an opportunity to engage, and to enhance our control mechanisms, which can often lead to operational improvements,” Danielle said.

“It shows that people trust us to deal with issues, which we do with very embedded processes that are required of us both legislatively, and across the industry as a responsible miner.”

OceanaGold’s Complaints and Grievance Mechanism Standard, implemented in 2019, provides a framework for the timely and adequate resolution of concerns, complaints, and grievances relating to operations and projects, with a focus on preventative management.

The Standard is governed by the External Affairs and Social Performance Manual and is subject to biennial review. This forms part of OceanaGold’s commitment to meeting the World Gold Council’s Responsible Gold Mining Principles (Principle 2.5), which states: We will establish fair, accessible, effective and timely mechanisms through which complaints and grievances related to our activities can be raised and resolved and remedies implemented. Those raising such grievances in good faith will not face discrimination or retaliation as a result of raising their concerns.

Actions resulting from the recent review will be implemented by the end of 2021. These include establishing designated community hotlines at the Macraes Operation in New Zealand and the Haile Gold Mine in the United States.

For the company’s operations at the “mining towns” of Waihi in New Zealand and Didipio in the Philippines, immediate neighbours and the broader community are well versed in mining activities through targeted engagement and communication. Community hotlines are already established at these operations, but the review found opportunities to improve internal triage systems to ensure complaints and grievances are resolved more quickly.

Back on site at Waihi, it’s Donna’s experience at resolving issues and building relationships with the community that has extended the company’s duty of care.

“At a training course many years ago, I heard the phrase, ‘A complaint is a gift’ and I take that mantra to work with me every day,” she said.

“I have an open-door approach and by taking the time to stop and chat, I’ve learnt so much about my community. Like, who might need help with firewood over winter, or who might be feeling especially lonely during lockdown.

“It’s about taking the bad with the good and I try to help where I can and hopefully make a difference.”

OceanaGold recognises the importance of creating and running effective operational level grievance mechanisms to:

  • Help remediate harm for which OceanaGold identifies it has caused or contributed to
  • To act as an early warning system to prevent escalation and potential outbreak of conflicts
  • To provide critical information for broader human rights due diligence processes.

OceanaGold is committed to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – the fundamental instrument for preventing and addressing risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity – which sets expectations around remediation and participation in effective grievance mechanisms.

OceanaGold is also a member of the United Nations Global Compact where it commits to respect human rights.

Find out more at https://oceanagold.com/sustainability/social-performance/our-approach/

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