Companies face a variety of financial, environmental, political, and social pressures which can limit or impede their ability to effectively develop and implement CSR practices. Below are some examples of the challenges associated with implementing CSR encountered by Canadian mining and exploration companies:
Responses by Company
Agnico Eagle Mines Limited
The most challenging aspect of planning for and applying CSR practices is social acceptability.
American Vanadium Corp.
As a start-up company there are many competing priorities, and developing policies and systems to implement them with a very small staff and limited resources is difficult. The company must rely on the experience of the staff developing the project to integrate CSR practices.
Angkor Gold Corp.
We are starting at the beginning, meaning we are educating everyone in the country (Cambodia), from locals to the Ministry of Mines, about what CSR is, how it can be implemented to benefit all stakeholders, and getting non-traditional participants to the table. Challenging aspects include finding human resources that understand this undertaking from an industry perspective and can execute it in- country, and a major shortage of skilled staff, because most of them will come from an NGO background, which is VERY different than a for-profit model.
AuRico Gold Inc.
Meeting the community expectations against the company's ability and financial capacity is recognized as a challenge.
There are many, many challenges. The unrealistic expectations of local communities is perhaps one of the largest, as is preventing and acting against corruption by local suppliers and partners. Our sites are remote and not easily accessed in a region with limited transportation infrastructure, which makes logistics a severe challenge at times. The communities are, historically, deeply divided between different factions, which sometimes makes it difficult to negotiate between different groups and respond to the legitimate goals of entire communities. Financing these projects discussed above remains an ongoing challenge, particularly during downturns in the mining cycle.
The most challenging part of planning and applying CSR practices is that the target for success is constantly moving. Stakeholders are constantly re-defining what they want from companies, whether it concerns jobs, the environment, or engagement standards. This requires companies to continually engage, update practices and policies, and the definition of "success" when it comes to CSR.
Candente Copper Corp.
Some challenges include cost-effective public relations in areas dominated by politically motivated communications, and creating Benefit Continual Management (costs and effective implementation). Another is truly addressing complex issues of development in areas with high levels of poverty. Finally the ability of the company to evolve with changes, and prioritize improving CSR practices in complex environments and high impact developments.
Delta Gold Corp.
One challenge is finding employees and contractors that share our very high ethical and moral standards. Another is training these to do exactly what we demand.
Handa Copper Corp.
The most challenging aspects are implementing practices in jurisdictions where the appropriate administrative infrastructure is not in place and the practice of the company may be at a level not familiar to the communities in which we work. Often the company practices are at a level not legislated for or adopted by local government. There is therefore often a large education and sensitization component required which the company may not have the resources to fully accommodate.
HudBay Minerals Inc.
Three challenging aspects are:
- Developing practical and objective indicators ("metrics" - although not necessarily quantitative) to measure progress against community / social impact aspects of CSR.
- Developing corporate standards that provide sufficiently detailed guidance to ensure projects and operating locations are performing to corporate expectations and objectives, while providing sufficient flexibility to each location to optimize programs to meet local priorities and social context.
- Integrating CSR programs and objectives into overall operations and management responsibilities in ways that the CSR programs reflect a strategic approach ensuring value for the company and local communities.
MBAC Fertilizer Corp.
The biggest challenge relates to the remote location of the project, where the region's population and mostly local workers do not have experience in mining and industrial operation. Awareness, understanding and capacity building in CSR culture require more effort and time than usual.
Nortec Minerals Corp.
Modifying CSR Practices to fit foreign requirements is a challenge.
NOVAGOLD Resources Inc.
In Alaska, our region is a very large area with many different and varied communities and social challenges. Just tracking our CSR performance and maintaining engagement throughout this remote area is a significant challenge.
Stans Energy Corp.
The challenges remained communicating and dealing with local organizations and a dysfunctional government enmeshed in local and somewhat chaotic political issues. This is not to delve further into what is largely a traditionally tribal governing system which is trying to transition to a parliamentary democratic system.
Suncor Energy Inc.
Although we have come quite far on our CSR journey, some of the most challenging aspects of planning for CSR practices include changing regulatory landscape, shifting attitudes toward our industry and evolving stakeholder perceptions, and geopolitical impacts on global markets. Some of the most challenging aspects of applying CSR practices include being able to fully integrate those practices throughout the company's processes, embedding those practices within the company's culture, and resource constraints.
The company identified needing to overcome “old school” perceptions with capital investors (non-IFC) that CSR is a socialist activity.
U.S. Oil Sands Inc.
Ensuring that the CSR culture is maintained as the company grows is a challenge.
A company indicated that the most challenging aspect of planning for and applying CSR practices is operating in different countries, jurisdictions and cultures.
A company indicated that the most challenging issue is to be responsible, and to develop mutual respect and trust so that an affected community and all its members become confidently aware of the opportunities that come with mine development, and to bring on development with a sensitivity that allows these individuals to understand, participate, grow, and achieve their own full potential.