Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Chapter 3: We're in charge now

Chapter 3

CSR: We’re in charge now

This chapter examines Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and community engagement strategies, illustrating how companies have used these tactics to neutralize community resistance and create a favourable social environment for operations. It focuses first on efforts by the Canadian junior Almaden Minerals to obtain the so-called ‘social licence to operate’ for its Ixtaca gold–silver project in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico; and then on the conflict between the Canadian giant Barrick Gold and communities in the north of San Juan, Argentina, following repeated spills at its Veladero gold and silver mine.

‘mining today provides very little in the way of employment. For reasons of both safety and efficiency, technology has replaced much of the workforce in the sector. Most of the employment is short term, available only during the construction phase. Once mines are up and running, demand for labour is minimal, and is largely for skilled professionals who are hired not from local communities, but from elsewhere in the country and sometimes from abroad.’

Second People’s Water Summit at the Río Jáchal 2019. Credit: Oscar Martinez

‘The terms are always dictated by the more powerful party, which is the company. This distorts any consultation process or social intervention strategy.’

– Lucio Cuenca, director of the Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts (OLCA), Santiago de Chile

Sierra Norte de Puebla. Credit: Alejandro Marreros

‘At the moment, the company is using the building that used to host the town council as their office … And that’s very symbolic. What they’re saying, is “We’re the ones in charge now. The one who calls the shots in this community is the company Minera Gorrión.”’

– Alejandro Marreros, of the Consejo Tiyat Tlali, a network of social organizations in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico

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