Kuvaaja: Birgitta Brusila

Published May 20, 2014

Responsibly – dialogue in Kittilä

The latest blogger in Sitra's Responsibly series explains how her gold mining company keeps locals in Lapland in touch...
Writer
Author's profile page: Anita Alajoutsijärvi

Anita Alajoutsijärvi is a quality and sustainability manager at Agnico Eagle's Kittilä mine. She has worked for Agnico Eagle for five years.

We at the Agnico Eagle Kittilä mine form part of the community in which our operations are located. We assist in the improvement of well-being and the promotion of economic and social development in Kittilä and other parts of Lapland. The overall welfare of the municipality and the well-being of its residents are important to us. Being surrounded by a vibrant and active community also serves the best interests of our mine, since this means that our workers and their families enjoy living in the area.

We are in active dialogue with our stakeholders and aim to keep improving this line of communication. We value our stakeholders’ feedback on the way we operate, because success is possible only through co-operation. At the Kittilä mine, we have established a Community Liaison Committee tasked with nurturing and improving the dialogue between the mine and local stakeholders. The committee performs part of the mine’s communications and social responsibility work and is one of our communication channels.

The committee’s activities are still in their early stages: the group convened for the second time in March 2014 at the Kittilä mine. Stakeholders’ representatives at the meeting included a school curator and people from the local reindeer herding co-operative, village association and villages, the Levi Tourist Office, Kittilän Luonto ry (nature association) and from the parish and local government of Kittilä.

The committee acts as a forum for exchanging information: for bringing issues that are of concern to stakeholders to the mining company’s attention, since open dialogue is a good way of preventing groundless rumours from spreading. According to the representatives of various stakeholders, the group does important work and its activities confirm that open communication is a priority.  The locals and the mining company should be able to discuss even the most sensitive issues before they are aired in public by the media.

Our Canadian parent company provided the operating model for the committee. According to the applicable guidelines, the group should include a minimum of four representatives from both the mine and the stakeholders, serving two years at a time. One person may represent more than one stakeholder group. While the committee has a maximum of 15 representatives, matters can be effectively discussed by an even larger group – as was demonstrated at the meeting in March.

The committee aims to meet two to three times a year, with the venue alternating between the village and the mine. Meetings will primarily be held to address topical issues related to the mine, but other specialist themes can also be raised. At the meeting in March, topics of discussion included the status of the Kuotko mining project, the expansion of production capacity and information on the mine’s employees. The latter topic had been requested by the stakeholders present at the previous meeting.

The committee will continue its activities at Kittilä in the next meeting, to be held in August 2014. Hopefully, similar activities will also be launched in other mining communities in Finland. Indeed, the Network for Sustainable Mining may have a role to play in the establishment of joint activities of this kind for other mines.

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