With a mine life to 2037 and long-term economic investment committed to the region, OceanaGold is refreshing its approach to sustainable community development at Waihi, located in the North Island of New Zealand. But first, the Operation’s External Affairs and Social Performance Superintendent, Kyle Welten, and his team needed to take a step back and think about the region’s future. What does Waihi look like post mining? And until that time comes, how can the local community benefit from the Company’s presence?
Hard questions are being asked right now by the sustainability team at OceanaGold’s Waihi Operation. For a town that’s known gold since it was first discovered in the 1800s and depends on its continued success, the community is looking to the Company to deliver a meaningful contribution and help secure its future.
“In simple terms, we have a responsibility to set Waihi up for success – both now and into the future when our children and children’s children will be living their lives here,” Kyle said.
Over the last 12 months, the team has developed a ‘Life of Mine Sustainability Strategy Framework’, which outlines how the Company will align its operational performance with local aspirations, values and culture.
The Framework takes a shared value approach and outlines how OceanaGold will endeavour to be a trusted partner by contributing to the wellbeing of Waihi through partnerships that deliver sustainable outcomes for the life of mine and beyond.
“As a responsible miner, we are committed to leaving a positive legacy and actively contributing to the sustainable development of the local community post mining,” Kyle said.
“Our Contribution to sustainable development refers to the strategies and actions we will take towards the sustainable economic and social development of Waihi – steps that we can take now and that continue to make positive impacts well beyond the end of our involvement.
“Unlike impact management, sustainable development is outcome-based and uses natural resources to meet the needs of all people, without compromising future generations and the environment.
“The community rightly has an expectation that as a mining operation, we will manage our effects, for example water management or the health and safety of our workforce. Those things are non-negotiable and are stringently managed by us and reported to our regulators.
“However, there’s also an expectation of the community that’s not as vocal, prominent or actively thought about. And that is: what do we leave behind?
“We know the community most definitely expects to have a say in that – and to be our partner to deliver a prosperous future for the town – and that’s why we will be taking this Framework to the community and getting their thoughts and ideas.”
If consented, the Project has the potential to produce over 1.6 million ounces of gold and over 2.2 million ounces of silver over a 13-year period, complementing the already consented Martha Underground, and extending the life of the mine at Waihi to 2037.
“As part of the project, we are committed to working collaboratively with our local communities to create opportunities, build resilience, and leave a positive, long-lasting legacy – well beyond the mining life cycle,” Kyle said.
“My one-year-old daughter will go to school here – I want this to be a place she can grow up and thrive in her education and life. So, it’s comforting that people at OceanaGold genuinely care about operating in a way that sees benefits flow to the next generation.
“The Sustainability Team have spent the last couple of years talking, and thinking about, how we can better contribute to Waihi. I’m looking forward to putting this thinking in to practice and starting to actively discuss those potential contributions with our community.”
For more information about the Waihi Operation visit https://www.waihigold.co.nz/