Dealing with Grievances

Even with the best designed impact assessments, agreements, engagement programs and risk mitigation strategies, conflicts can still occur; in some cases with rapid escalation. How a mining company anticipates and responds can be critical in determining the future quality of relations with community and, ultimately, the company’s social licence to operate.

There are growing expectations for companies to enhance their approach to dealing with community grievances, complaints and concerns – as a result many companies have established leading practice grievance mechanisms.

Grievance mechanisms

Complaint mechanisms can provide a well-respected channel of communication between companies and local people over issues of concern. These mechanisms can serve as:

  • A tool to build trust and understanding of the issues
  • Strengthen stakeholder trust
  • They help detect local concerns at an early stage

It is good practice for companies to:

  • Involve local communities in the design and implementation of the mechanism
  • Involve respected third parties in the design and implementation of the mechanism
  • Consider establishing a grievance process that is run by a respected, independent body

Sources of potential disagreement or conflict:

  • Establishing a mine without broad community support or, where required, the FPIC
  • Inadequate engagement or decision making processes
  • Inadequate or inequitable compensation for land
  • Inequitable distribution of benefits
  • Broken promises and unmet expectations of benefits
  • Failure to generate opportunities for employment, training, supply or community development
  • Failure to follow-through on commitments in a given timeframe
  • Environmental degradation
  • Disruption to amenity and lifestyle
  • Loss of livelihood
  • Inappropriate employee or contractor behaviour
  • Violation of human rights
  • Social dislocation
  • Historical grievances not being adequately addressed
  • A lack of respect towards Indigenous Peoples’ rights, culture, history and spirituality
  • Issues around access to and control of land