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25.03.2009 Business & Finance

Report gives Newmont thumbs up

By The Statesman

Newmont Mining Corporation, the parent company of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, has released the results of an independent, 18-month global review of the Company's ability to manage relationships with local communities.

The Community Relationships Review was initiated by a group of institutional shareholders and supported by Newmont"s Board of Directors and management. Shareholders approved the measure in April 2007 by a vote of nearly 92%.

 The shareholder resolution called for an independent "global review and evaluation of the company's policies and practices relating to existing and potential opposition from local communities and to our company"s operations and the steps taken to reduce such opposition."

The CRR was undertaken by independent assessors with direct input from an Advisory Panel comprised of independent sustainability experts and leaders of prominent civil society organizations and advocacy groups.

Intensive studies of Newmont's community relationships at five mine sites, including the Ahafo Mine, provided the basis for a set of findings and recommendations regarding how Newmont currently manages its engagements with communities. The CRR and supporting documents are publicly available on the company's web site at www.newmont.com

"For Newmont, this transparent process provides a robust and independent analysis of how we manage our community relationships as a company," said Richard O'Brien, President and Chief Executive Officer.

"This comprehensive approach offers a valuable and in-depth understanding of the complexities of these relationships, the contexts in which conflicts may occur and recommendations for improvement."

In its assessment of the Ghana Ahafo Mine, the study found that Newmont has established a "solid base for good community relations over the life of the mine." The assessors said they had found evidence that the company is "very committed to promoting strong relationships with the local communities," and that it "engage(s) with community stakeholders on the basis of core values of fairness, transparency and participation."

Further, the report stated that the Mine has "sought stakeholder input and feedback regarding a wide range of community development programs and initiatives," and has "incorporated stakeholder concerns into its community development planning."

The CRR authors complimented the company on the establishment of the innovative Ahafo Social Responsibility Forum as it "provides a unique platform for engagement with the community."

The reviewers noted that the Ahafo programmes "promote longer term economic development "and that the company" invest(s) in community development projects that extend beyond the narrow impacts of its mining operations."

The study found that the challenges facing the Ahafo operation included the significant demand for employment by local Ahafo people and the need to carefully monitor, assess and manage the needs and concerns of the resettled communities in their new environments and livelihoods.

 The assessment also recommended that the company work harder to promote the capacity of local government, particularly in the area of royalty revenue management; and that it ensures a more systematic approach to grievance response and management.

The report concluded that "The Ahafo Mine is positioning itself as an active contributor towards building and strengthening social and developmental institutions at all levels."

The assessors noted that "From Newmont's perspective, investing in Ghana signals an explicit intent to 'move beyond' the colonial legacy of mining and to establish a more equitable and legitimate basis for interacting with local communities … A number of mine initiatives signal an explicit intention to develop sustainable practices and equitable partnerships between the mine and the community."

The CRR independent Advisory Panel's final report stated that "the Review is an unprecedented undertaking within the mining sector." The CRR "represents a very serious investment of time, energy and good faith" and that it "is a very good report with clear language and a tone that is frank and honest." A number of other prominent advocacy civil society organizations have also welcomed the study.

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