April 27, 2016
Exploration teams are sometimes the first contact with local communities, so it is critical that we get it right at the beginning. In northwestern Turkey, geologists in Teck’s exploration team first engaged with local communities in 2006 as we built a portfolio of projects.
Turkey is home to one of our largest exploration drilling program for gold and copper. As project activities advanced through to drilling and resource estimation our capability and capacity to engage with the community expanded to include dedicated community professionals on the exploration team to address the risks and opportunities of mining. For example, they identified an opportunity to raise awareness of mining for one community that was previously unfamiliar with mining.
Community members were taken to see a modern active zinc mine to demonstrate responsible management of mining activities including mitigation of environmental impacts as well as the positive impacts on the local economy and community well-being. More recently, the community team engaged with potentially vulnerable groups in the local community, the women and children, through health and educational seminars, initiatives with schools and additional mine tours.
In 2015, we took the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the SMART tools currently in use. The goal of the evaluation was to update and strengthen the exploration team’s skills to authentically and transparently engage with local community members, so that ultimately we obtain the community’s support to proceed with geological investigations and maintain support through mapping, technical reviews and drilling.
The review brought together 20 key members of the Turkey exploration team including senior geologists, communities professionals, project managers and the country manager over five days.
The workshop and training helped identify areas for improvement, such as an anonymous feedback mechanism for vulnerable members of one local community, and opportunities to facilitate development partnerships. An engagement strategy developed in the workshop provided a scalable process for the exploration teams to consider on other projects.
In the months following the workshop, the training and guidance tools have been used to update community engagement strategies implemented by exploration geologists and community professionals at other key projects in the broader district in support of early engagement.