Apr 19, 2021

By: Kevin Vincent

Investors demand it – and communities expect it. One of the world’s top mining companies has taken a global leadership position on the issue of indigenous relations. Denver-based Newmont, which operates the Musselwhite Mine in northwestern Ontario and the Porcupine Division of mines in Timmins, has launched a Global Centre for Indigenous Community Relations.

Newmont is the largest gold producer in the world. The company produces more than 6 million ounces of gold annually from regions that include Australia, Canada, Latin America, Mexico, and the United States.

    “Our purpose at Newmont is to create value and improve lives through sustainable and responsible mining,” said John Mullally, Country Manager and Senior Director of Sustainability and External Relations at a conference in March.  
   “Recently, we announced the launch of the Global Center for Indigenous Community Relations. As part of our Goldcorp acquisition, we made commitments around following through on First Nations commitments, as well as expanding our understanding and learning from Australia, learning from Ghana and other regions where we operate, to improve our performance around community relations, as well as serving as a platform for external events and profiling subjects like UNDRIP, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
   In the latter part of 2020 Newmont made an announcement to take on science-based targets on greenhouse gas emissions for 2030. “It’s aligned with each of the jurisdictions where we operate, as well as to achieve net carbon neutral by 2050, which is a significant commitment. And on top of that, I think the capital side, putting up $500 million towards climate initiatives, as well, to really put some money behind that commitment,” said Mullally.
   On another topic that resonates in the market, Newmont says it is making strides in workplace gender-diversity. “I think it’s really important that we keep in mind, typically, a mining company has anywhere between 10-20% of the employment base is women. We’re lagging well behind the 50/50 split and I think there’s lots of room to improve there.”
   Taking on the Goldcorp assets meant Newmont was also the new owner of the Borden Lake operation near Chapleau, Ontario’s all-electric mine.
   “The approach that we took at the time was one that included local communities and included both the provincial and federal governments in the contemplation of going all electric, it also included the supply and services cluster as well. We found that that openness and transparency actually brought a lot of profile to Ontario as a jurisdiction, a lot of profile to, at the time Goldcorp and then Newmont as we built the mine in terms of the approach to a low carbon transitioning to a low carbon economy.”

   Mullally says openness is essential. “Even from the local communities’ perspective, for example, when it came to scheduling our drill program in the summer times, we were respectful of cottagers for Borden Lake, to understand when they were going to be there, and when they were not. We wanted to make a really small mine site with a very, very small footprint so that the visual impact was limited, because again, the lake is extremely popular for recreation and fishing.”

   Mullally says when the Ontario government stepped in Newmont believed the important part was that it signaled that the government was supportive of the mining industry. “Sometimes we have trouble in jurisdictions where we don’t know if we’re welcome or not, frankly, so we had Ontario stepping up and saying, hey, we want to be part of this solution, which was really encouraging, for us at the time.”
   The second benefit, according to Mullally, was for the workforce. “The other part that we forget about with the greenhouse gas emissions reduction, is we forget about when you go electric in an underground environment, you eliminate all the contaminants and the diesel particulate from the working environment. So you make a massive difference to every single person’s work every single day, and we understood just how much of an impact that made.”
   Lastly, Newmont says there has been a noticeable upward tick in the supply and service sector since Borden has gone live. “We saw that that leadership started to basically spur a cluster of development. We had MacLean Engineering based in Collingwood, we had supplies and services that were setting up shop in Sudbury, and companies that were already serving the mine in Kirkland Lake that had already gone electric.”
Mullally says there has been a spike in subject matter expertise. “I think that that sets the supply of services in Ontario ahead. That was like a very interesting impact that we’ve been able to see over the past three or four years.”

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