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Indigenous communities

Indigenous communities often have cultural and spiritual connections to traditional or ancestral lands. Livelihoods and lifestyles can also be closely connected to their local environment.

The particular rights of indigenous peoples are assessed through the Social Way, our framework for managing social performance, and assured through our Best Practice Principles programme.

Three of our mines operate in or close to indigenous land areas. All are in Canada: Victor mine in Ontario and Snap Lake mine (currently on care and maintenance) and the new Gahcho Kué mine in the Northwest Territories.

Ensuring local benefits from mining has always been an important part of the Impact Benefit Agreements (IBAs) we have agreed with indigenous groups in these locations. These agreements provide a framework of commitments through which these communities will benefit from our operations.

We have three signed IBAs at Victor mine and six at Gahcho Kué. When Snap Lake mine went into care and maintenance at the end of 2015, the four IBAs in place there were put on hold. This was preceded by extensive engagement with those affected to explain why care and maintenance was necessary, what the impacts may involve, and possible mitigation measures.

No incidents of violations involving the rights of indigenous peoples were recorded in 2016 (2015: none).

In Canada, we make it a priority to buy goods and services from indigenous suppliers. In 2016, based on feedback from communities around our Canadian mines, we changed our approach when awarding contracts. We recognised that short-term contracts were failing to maximise opportunities for local or indigenous employment because of the limited scope they allow for long-term planning or investment in capacity.

Now, wherever possible, we instead seek to establish ‘evergreen’ contracts. Provided their terms are met, these are awarded for the lifetime of the operation.

The first to be signed was with Bouwa Whee Catering, a 100 per cent indigenous-owned and community-based business, which we appointed to deliver catering and other site services at the new Gahcho Kué mine from December 2016.