We operate in environments where the communities affected by our operations expect a meaningful existence beyond the life of our mines.
Creating direct economic opportunity can build trust and acceptance of the mining industry and can lead to increased community collaboration and economic growth. While community demands and the complexity of social challenges faced may be felt more acutely at our operations in emerging economies, where the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality are most visible, the concept of shared value is relevant across all our operations. Our social performance is a critical determinant of our continued ability to conduct our business activities, underpinning as it does our ability to maintain our social licence to operate.
Our 2030 aspirational community goal, which is aligned with the SDGs, is “Contributing to resilient, self-sustaining communities” that are free from poverty and inequality. To deliver on this aspiration, we endeavour to ensure that communities experience real and sustainable benefits from our operating activities. Such an approach is aligned with the increasing emphasis on responsible investment.
For more detailed information on our contribution to resilient self-sustaining communities, see the <SR> and <OP>. These reports also contain information on our performance and work in relation to community health, community and asset security, respecting human rights and artisanal and small-scale mining.
Socio-economic development and community upliftment
Socio-economic development initiatives are vitally important if we are to ensure self-sustaining, resilient communities. The ability to demonstrate the positive impacts from our activities is important in winning and maintaining our social licence to operate. All operations have implemented social development programmes in line with their own development imperatives, including the profile and needs of host communities, the resources available for investment and relevant regulatory requirements, among other things.
The socio-economic development projects implemented are aligned with identified community investment priorities, including social infrastructure, health facilities and services, education, training and skills development, and small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) development. For 2019, group community investment spend totalled $27.69 million as compared with $22.25 million in 2018.
Implementation continued of our group Local Procurement Policy that was launched in 2018. This policy seeks to establish a company-wide, sustainable local procurement programme to safely and ethically stimulate economic and social development within the countries and communities where we operate. It is central to building local value chains as we support the development of local suppliers. During the year, a multi-stakeholder workshop led to the completion of a local business development framework and guidelines for sustainable development across our Africa operations. Implementation of these is evidenced for example by the partnerships established with local suppliers, amongst others when we started our Obuasi mine.
This policy is intended to address increasing pressure from host governments and communities on mining companies to overhaul local procurement processes and systems, which remains a challenge. We are committed to implementing our localisation – see <People are our business> – and local procurement policies and strategies.