AngloGold Ashanti’s operations stretch across four continents and a wide range of operating conditions. As a result, our stakeholder engagement activities differ from site to site. Nevertheless, the company must objectively identify priorities across its operations and understand where engagement is functioning well and where additional effort is required. In order to address this challenge, the development of a common approach and methodology for engagement is being considered.
The first step in such an effort is to identify the key aspects of best practice for stakeholder engagement. That is, if we were to implement a common approach, which practices would be emphasized. To do so, we looked across a number of the company’s operations to identify sites where engagement has been successful. In addition, we looked outside our operations in order to benefit from a broader set of experiences.
Over the course of 2010, AngloGold Ashanti’s regional group in the Americas took this work forward. The first pilot site was the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company (CC&V) in the United States. Undertaking such work requires that a certain level of trust already be established with stakeholders. Given CC&V’s longstanding efforts to engage with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, there was willingness on the part of internal and external parties to work with the company on making its engagement efforts even more effective.
The work began with an update to CC&V’s existing stakeholder analysis. With this in hand, externally-conducted interviews were undertaken with a large number of local and regional stakeholders. The objective of these interviews was to elicit objective assessments of CC&V’s communications and stakeholder engagement practices. This also allowed CC&V to assess whether its understanding of how stakeholders perceive operations was accurate. This aspect of work is still in process at CC&V; the objective for 2011 is to integrate the learning from this process into the mine’s stakeholder engagement strategy for 2011 and beyond.
“Interviews with stakeholders in our community recognized CC&V as a good neighbour and good steward of the environment. Stakeholders were familiar with the mining operations and CC&V’s involvement in the community. However, stakeholders also recognised that outreach efforts were reduced after operations permits are received, and information on the operation is not as widely distributed when CC&V is conducting normal operations in accordance with those permits,” says Jane Mannon, Community Affairs Manager at CC&V.
Once this work is completed at CC&V, we will assess the relevance of this process to other parts of the business and decide whether similar efforts could enhance stakeholder engagement at other operations. Though we are not yet in a position to answer this question, we see strong logic in going down this path. When stakeholder engagement is undertaken in a consistent manner, it is more easily integrated into site, regional and company-wide strategies. A common approach also allows key challenges and opportunities to be more effectively highlighted across the business and for insights to be more effectively shared.
The ultimate objective of this process is to avoid situations in which stakeholders feel as though their concerns have not been heard and that they have no viable way of communicating with the company. Continuously improving our engagement practices is an ongoing priority for AngloGold Ashanti.