To maintain public support for our operations, we need the respect and support of communities, indigenous people, governments and regulators affected by our operations.
We work with communities who are affected by our activities to tell them what we are doing and to receive feedback and further input to build and sustain trust. For example, in Saskatchewan, we participate in the Athabasca Working Group and Northern Saskatchewan Environmental Quality Committee. In Ontario, we liaise with our communities by regularly holding educational and environment-focused activities. Public opinion research shows that we have strong local support in these communities.
We build and sustain the trust of local communities by being a leader in corporate social responsibility (CSR). This was recognized by the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business (CCAB) through its Progressive Aboriginal Relations program (PAR) when we were awarded our fourth consecutive Gold Level certification. Also in 2013, we were the proud recipient of the Prospector and Developer’s Association of Canada (PDAC) award in Environmental and Social Responsibility based on our long-term commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Through our CSR initiatives, we also educate, engage, employ and invest in the people in the regions where we operate.
For example, in northern Saskatchewan in 2013:
- just under 50% of the employees at our northern mines were local residents (747) and were paid more than $74 million in wages
- more than $450 million was paid to northern businesses, which provided 67% of services to our northern minesites. This is the second straight year we have surpassed the $450 million mark in our northern service spend.
- we made more than 70 community visits in northern Saskatchewan to discuss potential projects at our northern operations, and to provide career information to high school students and community members
- we donated more than $1.1 million to northern and aboriginal initiatives for youth, health and wellness, education and literacy, and culture and recreation
- we supported high school and post-secondary students through scholarship, apprenticeship and summer student programs, work placements, and the Athabasca Education Awards
In an effort to formalize our relationship with local communities and guide future co-operation and the sharing of benefits from our operations, we have now negotiated two collaboration agreements with northern Saskatchewan communities. In a joint effort with AREVA, in 2013, we signed a collaboration agreement with the English River First Nation. This agreement, similar to the one we signed with the northern village of Pinehouse and the Kineepik Metis Local in 2012, sets out specific commitments by the mining companies with respect to workforce development, business development, community engagement, environmental stewardship and community investment. These agreements confirm the support of the First Nation people for our existing projects and operations, subject to our continued work to protect the health and safety of people and the environment.
Our operations are closely regulated to give the public comfort that we are operating in a safe and environmentally responsible way. Regulators approve the construction, startup, continued operation and any significant changes to our operations. Our operations are also subject to laws and regulations related to safety and the environment, including the management of hazardous wastes and materials.
Our objectives are consistent with those of our regulators—to keep people safe, protect the environment and engage with local communities. We pursue these goals through transparent and respectful efforts with all of our regulators. We work to maintain their trust and that of stakeholders by continually striving to protect people and the environment.