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Need to improve working relations in mining communities
Posted on: 17-Aug-2012         Source: thebftonline.com
Although mining sector reform has enhanced the country’s reputation over the years as an attractive destination for foreign investment and has drawn a number of mining companies into the country, it is still perceived as exploitative by some mining communities and stakeholders. This translates into a frosty relationship between mining concerns and their host communities.

Such relationships lead to violent confrontations in mining communities, and invariably affect the production output of some mining communities

It is in the light of this that Mr. Andrews Kingsley Doku, Head of Human Resource of the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), has noted that communication should play a broader and more strategically significant role between organisations and stakeholders.

“All communication programmes should be designed to build relationships with organisational stakeholders, and communication must address potential conflict between the organisation and those relevant internal and external stakeholder groups which may affect the organisation’s reputation,” he added.

Speaking on “Improving mining companies and their stakeholders relationship: the role of a symmetric model of public-relations” at the 2nd UMaT Biennial International Mining and Mineral Conference at Tarkwa in the Western Region, he pointed out that a report from the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in 2008 confirms that the absence of effective communication and consultations between mining companies and communities has largely contributed to conflicts in mining areas.

“This is an indication that mining companies have not applied the kind of communication that seeks to sustain and engage mining communities as key stakeholders in the extractive industry,” he said.

He said, as a result, mining communities presume that they are unrecognised stakeholders, even though resources extracted by the companies belong to them -- this lack of recognition, of power and influence, of mining communities provides the single greatest impediment to improved relationships.

According to him, as these concerns become reality the need for dialogue, negotiation and consensus building in any industry becomes crucial.

“There is also the perception that while mining communities continue to wallow in poverty, millions of dollars worth of gold is extracted freely from ancestral land. As such, the perception usually metamorphoses into situations that have potential for sparking conflicts between mining companies and host communities,” he said.

Mr. Doku noted that this requires a kind of communication that has the potential to assuage and accommodate the concerns and interests of mining communities, instead of resorting to use of the press, public information and asymmetric models of communication that selfishly see organisation stakeholders as passive recipients of information.

He said for mining companies to become successful in a highly regulated environment, its communication must give premium to dialogue and negotiation to achieve understanding between the mining company and its communities.

By Juliet AGUIAR, Tarkwa