In general, mines are located in areas that are not economically developed, so there is a lot of potential for social, economic and cultural collisions. Mining operations use modern machines that are located in rural communities who are not used to dealing with them. At the initial stage of the operation, there will be many skilled workers arriving from various regions or even other countries, so there is a high probability of cultural friction between migrants and local residents.
There is land use which, if not handled carefully, can lead to conflict if there are parties who feel that they are not receiving adequate compensation. It may also happen that the recipient of compensation is declared not to be the entitled party. Meanwhile, from a workforce perspective, there is a potential for a perception to emerge that a group of people, be it ethnic, village or different social strata, have a greater chance than others, causing jealousy or even worse, horizontal conflicts.
From an environmental perspective, mining operations that do not comply with best mining practices have the potential to cause pollution and severe environmental damage.
Therefore, this industry requires professional handling and strict supervision. There are many sources of pollution, including dust from mines, spills of fuel and lubricants for heavy equipment, as well as operating vehicles in mines and excavated waste.
If the community has complaints that cannot be resolved immediately, what often happens is to close the logistics route to the location. The mine operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the smooth operation of the mine is heavily dependent on a continuous supply of fuel, lubricants, limestone to neutralize acids, spare parts, replacement equipment and others. Disruptions to the day’s logistics lines can have a chain effect. It is clear that it is very easy to “strangle” the neck of a mining company.
Mining activities are full of risks and cannot be carried out carelessly. Obtaining a “social license to operate” (read PR INDONESIA January 2018 Edition) in the mining industry is much more complex and vulnerable than other business activities. In various areas that are accustomed to mining activities, such as East Kalimantan, South Sumatra and West Sumatra, the people are generally more receptive to mining. It is different if mining activities enter an area for the first time where the community is still unfamiliar with this economic activity.
Complete and Long-term
Kiroyan Partners once had a mining company client whose exploration activities had progressed. This company already has high confidence about the economic value of the mining materials to be extracted and will continue to the mining stage. Before starting mining, various building constructions for supporting facilities, sewage treatment plants and grinding machines, as well as employee housing must be prepared. The problem is that this area has never had mining activities.
We conducted comprehensive societal research. From stakeholder analysis, issue identification, to stakeholder engagement strategy by taking into account all the factors described above. Building on the conclusions drawn from this community study, we also made recommendations on what community development projects are most appropriate for local communities.
The consequence of increasing the company’s activities from the exploration stage to mine construction is the increased variety of stakeholders. On the government side alone, the number of government agencies that must be involved has increased significantly. Moreover, at that time, th regional elections were planned to be conducted, so the stakeholder analysis has to take into account the socio-political dynamics that will occur.
Currently, this client has entered the production stage for several years and the studies we conducted at the beginning became a guide for the company in interacting with the community to maintain a social license to operate. This job at a mining company is an example of a complete and long-term public affairs job, which includes training executives on aspects of society that need attention. This is because public affairs is a communication process and activity that is in accordance with and takes into account the social, cultural, economic and political context.
Chairman & Chief Consultant, Kiroyan Partners
This article has been published in PR Indonesia magazine 40th Edition, issued on July 2018, page 55.
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