Download the report from ICMM and Palladium
As part of ICMM’s Skills for Our Common Future Initiative, Palladium and the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) have undertaken research to better understand the challenges and opportunities for contributing to community resilience in mining regions particularly in the face of future disruptions.
The final brief in the Skills for our Common Future Initiative, jointly published by ICMM and Palladium, charts a path forward for mining companies striving to leave positive legacies in increasingly fraught landscapes.
This Brief builds upon the first and second Briefs by answering the how question: How can mining companies effectively invest in long-lasting community resilience without becoming the sole economic lifeline on which communities depend?
Applying inclusive concepts to design community resilience programs
The third Brief lays out an actionable roadmap mining organisations can use to foster impact in the communities where they work. The Brief argues that mining companies can establish strong reputations as engines of socio-economic development, proving just how essential they are to community resilience in a technology-enabled, politically volatile, and greener future.
But what do inclusive approaches look like in the context of the mining industry?
“Mining companies must ambitiously rethink the way they engage with other enterprises and stakeholders,” says Eduardo Tugendhat, Palladium’s Director of Commercial Facilities for Natural Resource Systems. “This could mean working with peer mines, small businesses, downstream customers, governments and investors who can offer mining companies additional resources to leverage resilience investments and offtaker relationships, wherein they purchase products from the value chains a mine supports to secure sustainability.”
The Brief highlights examples from several industries, including mining, education, and food and agriculture, providing immediate actions mining companies can take to transform their community resilience strategies.
“The industry has long been thinking about what its contribution to community resilience is,” comments Danielle Martin, ICMM’s Director, Social Performance. “This Brief sets out an ambitious path, but the variety of industry case studies offer encouraging evidence of what is made possible through collective effort.”
A first step organisations can take is to look beyond their sites to identify opportunities that will contribute to community resilience even after asset closure. “If we want to move away from mining projects being at the centre of communities’ economic prosperity, we’ve got to look beyond mining projects for opportunities. This Brief highlights just how critical partnerships are to community resilience during mine operation and after mine closure,” adds Martin.
The brief suggests that companies can work with adjacent industries, such as construction, to co-invest in skills training programs needed across sectors and beyond individual projects. It also highlights additional approaches, emphasising how mining companies can more sustainably invest in skills by co-creating interventions with training providers and skills-offtakers.
“One experience that guides our thinking on this issue is a program we managed in El Salvador,” explains Tugendhat. “There, we partnered with USAID [US Agency for International Development] and local employers to understand skills gaps and design training programs for underemployed youth. By bringing the employers into the process early, the program ensured a market for the resulting skills.”
“The program was so successful, the Government of El Salvador decided to dedicate funds to continue its operation and Walmart, a key investor, adopted the approach internally,” Tugendhat adds.
Building Community Resilience
While all this sounds very promising, key questions remain. How do we fund all this? When mining companies have limited funds to invest in community resilience initiatives, who can they approach to co-invest?
“In the interviews we conducted, there was no lack of interest or passion to tackle community resilience through a new lens,” says Palladium’s Erin Leyson, Senior Associate, Natural Resources Facilities. “However, several social performance practitioners noted how challenging it was to secure funding for lasting community resilience.”
The Brief recommends that mining companies unlock capital from other partners and legal structures to channel funds back into host communities. For example, in Peru, the Public Works for Taxes mechanism allows mining companies to receive income tax credits when they co-invest in infrastructure projects.
The Brief recognises that getting a range of different parties to collaborate can be difficult and requires specialised tools to ensure that co-investors can align resources and objectives.
“Implementation is where the rubber hits the road, but we can only get there if we all agree that a community resilience initiative will deliver value for all,” notes Tugendhat. “To get to this point, companies can use tools like Palladium’s Strategy Maps or the Balanced Scorecard to align their needs with community resilience priorities.”
While the launch of Issues Brief #3 marks the end of a knowledge building cycle, it signals a new beginning for the industry as mining companies set out to apply inclusive growth Principles. “We are excited to see how mining companies take this approach and run with it,” says Leyson.