The need for good community relations is becoming increasingly important as our neighbourhoods encroach on mining areas and shortages of building materials necessitates the establishment of quarries closer to business and residential areas to ensure infrastructure is developed.
Conversely, it is estimated that individual South African’s require at least one-and-a-half tons of aggregates each per year to survive and thrive, which means that communities cannot simply wish these mines away. Simultaneously, these mines employ well over half-a-million workers directly and indirectly who contribute directly to local economies.
Surface mining industry association, ASPASA has compiled a list of nine key aspects that can be implemented to foster great community relations quickly:
- Include local communities in future plans and keep them informed of progress being made towards sustainable mining within their areas
- Communicate continuously via a dedicated website and whatever other mediums are practical and preferred by all stakeholder
- Where possible make use of local forums and employment portals to identify and hire local skills. Also, make use of local businesses where possible
- Identify specific groups such as schools, hospitals, resident’s association, business forums, charities and other community-based organisations and engage via outreach programs such as community days and school visits.
- Participate fully in local events and support local communities through sponsorships, fund raising and the establishment of interest groups and forums
- Provide neighbours and surrounding communities with a rapid-response platform to air grievances, complain and seek feedback. Communication has to be maintained both to and from stakeholders and it is important to do so timeously and with due care.
- Establish ground rules that should never be broken such as upholding quite periods when communities may be resting, holding religious gatherings or writing exams etc.
- Likewise, the community may be asked to maintain free-flowing traffic for mine vehicles, report crimes and assist with other activities to enhance the safety and security of the region.
9. Identify all stakeholders within the area and find ways of working with them to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship at all times.