Engaging with Our Communities of Interest

Mining can bring significant environmental, social, and economic changes to an area. In an increasingly connected and informed world, stakeholders near mining operations want open and regular communication about mining activities and associated impacts and opportunities. New Gold recognizes the importance of understanding the people and community dynamics in the areas we operate, so that we can form trust-based relationships and contribute to sustainable socioeconomic benefits. The foundation for this is transparent and open two-way communication with residents and community leaders, beginning with initial exploration and development, and continuing through the mine’s life and closure.

Description of Impacts

Communication, or lack thereof, can make or break any relationship. When communication is adequate and genuine, all parties are more likely to understand each other and collaborate in mutually beneficial ways. When communication is lacking in frequency and sincerity, parties are less likely to trust one another and be willing to work together. This can lead to the development of negative perceptions of both parties. At New Gold, we understand that the people around our operations want to communicate directly with us to obtain the information they need. Likewise, we want to communicate directly with the people around us to hear what they have to say and to provide relevant information wherever possible.

Management Approach

We seek to maintain open dialogue with all individuals and groups who express an interest in, or may potentially be affected by, our activities. New Gold’s communities of interest are groups or individuals who have an interest in our business or operations, are impacted by our business or operations, or may have an impact on our business or operations. Across our sites, key communities of interest include local community members, local government and regulators, Indigenous communities and organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious groups, educational and health agencies and organizations, chambers of commerce and other business and industry associations and organizations.

We are vigilant in tracking how people and organizations are affected by our activities in order to understand and address any concerns, and continuously look for opportunities to address their interests. Our sites use stakeholder mapping practices to tailor community engagement and communication plans, and use context-appropriate mechanisms to create opportunities for two-way communications with their communities of interest. These plans are based on an in-depth understanding of the socio-economic and cultural context where they operate and follow criteria established in our Community Engagement and Development Standard. As a result of this tailored approach, engagement activities vary depending on the site, but all approaches include a mix of broad community meetings, small interest group meetings, workshops, site visits/tours and open houses.

As an example, at Cerro San Pedro, during its staged closure, our team continues to engage with local communities and government agencies to maintain two-way communication regarding closure activities, social development and infrastructure improvement programs. Engagement activities include meetings with leadership of Ejidos (Mexican system of communal land tenure), regular community meetings, household visits, presentations at schools, tours of the mine site and meetings with interest groups. Our Cerro San Pedro team is an active participant in local cultural and economic development initiatives.

Our Blackwater project is currently in the analysis stage of an Environmental Assessment process with both the Provincial and Federal governments. The process addresses the potential environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects of the project and provides opportunities for public comments about potential effects. New Gold also holds regular community meetings, information sessions and open houses, focus groups with health and education agencies and business organizations, community leaders’ meetings, economic development and citizen forums. Regular engagement with several Indigenous groups and organizations also continues as a critical part of the project’s engagement program.

Blackwater has also established an advisory forum, called the Community Liaison Committee, to help identify interests and concerns, and provide recommendations for developing policies, plans and programs throughout the life of the mine. Members include locally elected officials, economic development officers, school and college representatives, a social service agency and an environmental group. The Community Liaison Committee meets regularly to discuss issues of importance to the region. So far, the Committee has discussed: operational shift scheduling, community health, post-secondary education, and skilled labour attraction and retention. We continue working together to maximize benefits and opportunities to the local region.

New Gold has established external feedback mechanisms at all mines and projects. These mechanisms consider local cultural and social context, and encourage community members to provide feedback or make formal complaints directly to our teams while allowing for privacy and anonymity as appropriate.

We encourage and support employees who want to be active participants in our host communities. Our employees become involved at every level of civil society and over each year our sites and employees volunteer at various cultural and sporting events, community clean-up activities and initiatives to encourage recycling and healthy lifestyles.

New Gold also regularly engages with communities of interest through national and international organizations and initiatives as well as industry associations.

We invite comments and suggestions about our approach to social responsibility, as well as the content of this report, at sustainability@newgold.com.

2017 Engagement Spotlight

  • In 2017, all New Gold sites hosted regular engagement activities.
  • The Blackwater project held six Public Comment Period Information Sessions. More than 185 people attended to learn more about the project and our application for environmental assessment and environment impact statement.
  • For the sixth consecutive year, Rainy River hosted the Mining Matters program in local schools, bringing the program to four different schools in the Rainy River District. Rainy River also hosted a Mining Matters night for students and their parents to attend.
  • Cerro San Pedro continued to engage closely with host communities as it goes through the phased closure process. In addition to community meetings and household visits, in 2017, almost 12,000 people visited the New Gold Information Module in the Cerro San Pedro village, where locals and visitors learn about the mining history of the village, modern mining, and the operation and closure of the Cerro San Pedro Mine.
Formalized External Feedback Process – Complaints Received1
Sites 2014 2015 2016 2017
New Afton 2 0 0 4
Mesquite 0 0 0 0
Peak Mines 4 11 5 1
Cerro San Pedro 3 3 0 6
Blackwater 0 1 1 0
Rainy River n/a 49 56 21
Total 9 64 62 32

All complaints received through our formal mechanisms were addressed within timeframes prescribed by each site’s procedures.

During the last three years, the majority of complaints received across the company have been associated with Rainy River. The Rainy River project started its formal process to receive and address external feedback in 2015. The significant activities associated with construction of the mine, in an area with little previous mining activity, was a rich source for valuable feedback from the local communities in 2016. With continuing construction and start of commercial production in 2017, the number of complaints received has declined significantly.

Complaints received at Rainy River were associated with a variety of issues, mostly related to with the conditions of roads, road safety, and the impact of construction activities on private property. Other complaints were related to noise, vibration, light, and safety. Through 2016 and 2017, the feedback received has contributed to much of the site’s engagement activities and ongoing work to address local communities’ concerns and suggestions.