This guidance deals with the handing and resolution of issues of concern to local communities. It sets out how mining and metals companies can develop robust, credible and trusted procedures that provide local communities with a means of raising concerns relating to the company’s operations, and dealing with these in
ways that are considered to be fair, by both the community and the company.
For any large-scale project with potentially significant impacts, even those managed to the highest standards, some local concerns are inevitable. These concerns can be expressed in the form of a complaint, either formally or informally, and can encompass relatively minor concerns as well as more entrenched or serious issues (that may be described as grievances). In all such cases, having a credible local mechanism in place for systematically handling and resolving any complaints that might arise is clearly the right and responsible thing
to do. At the same time, responding to complaints in a nondefensive, effective way may not always be easy for companies. This is particularly the case when a company may consider that a community concern is based on perceived rather than real problems, or where there are fears of encouraging complaints motivated less by genuine problems than by a desire for compensation. If complaints procedures or mechanisms are well
designed however, they are likely to bring significant benefits not just for communities, but also over the long
term for the companies themselves. By providing an ongoing, well-respected channel of communication with local people over issues of concern, they can serve as a tool to build local trust and a common understanding of the issues and thereby strengthen stakeholder support for projects. They also can help operations detect local concerns at an early stage rather than leaving them unresolved with the potential to later erupt in more damaging ways for the company (for example as protests, conflicts, negative headlines or litigation).