The operators of McArthur River Mine, aptly named McArthur River Mining (MRM – a wholly owned subsidiary of Xstrata) have finally acknowledged their very poor record in community relations.
Unfortunately, instead of doing something about it (ie engage properly with the local community), they have chosen to say how good they are. Last week they received an award for Excellence in Community Relations for the NT Minerals Council.
When I sought confirmation of the award – which was announced via an MRM press release -on the NT Minerals Website it was nowhere to be found. Maybe the website is yet to updated, or maybe everyone is embarrassed given MRM’s dubious reputation for community relations.
Here is a reminder of what the EPA said about MRM’s community engagement in the Assesment Report 54
“The proponent has failed to capitalise on the opportunity that exists when working within a community where a cooperative relationship based on trust is established. MRM have operated at Borroloola for over 10 years and there appears to be little trust within some parts of the local community. An opportunity was presented to start working with a component of the community through respecting and using the communication channel presented by the [Borroloola Traditional Owners Group] BTOG. However the proponent put in place its own CRG [Community Reference Group] of which the key operative element is information provision, rather than true consultation.”
“Xstrata has not presented a social impact analysis, assessment or plan in either the EIS or the PER, even though the PER states that a key activity of the MRM Community Relations Team (none of which are identified members of the CRG) is the development of social impact management plans – ‘detailed plans of impact of the mine and its community (employees, contractors, movement of products etc) in or on the local community and actions to minimize or mitigate the potential impacts.’”
The view of the Borroloola Traditional Owners Group(BTEG), formed to talk to MRM/Xstrata is clear.
“MRM has failed to consult with Traditional Owners… MRM has deliberately ignored this group.”
“MRM has failed to make an agreement for the life of the proposed mine with Traditional Owners, and has not consulted with them about their expectations for an agreement.”
This award is indicative of a company desperately seeking legitimacy, using the NT Minerals Council to try and wash their community relations reputation.
It won’t work. Give up now. Leave our river where it is.