This exercise was conducted as part of the Canadian Government’s assessment of the in-country situation from an external perspective, and to demonstrate at the personal level how Nevsun, in collaboration with the State of Eritrea, is making a positive long-term difference to the country.
In addition to the Canadian government officials, we facilitated mine visits for foreign dignitaries and support staff from the EU, U.S., U.K., and the United Nations.
Many discussions centred on the 2015 human rights impact audit and next steps. The biggest single inquiry raised amongst stakeholders was how the State of Eritrea was spending its profits at the Bisha Mine. Such inquiries were raised with the Minister of Finance, and the State of Eritrea followed up with a letter that indicates where Bisha proceeds are spent within Eritrean society.
Subsequently, we played a role in facilitating media access to the Bisha Mine for Thomson Reuters and the Africa Report. We also willingly participated in a media account on the Bisha Mine, which we felt was biased, lacking in fact and substance, and sensationalized for television ratings. However, we believed it was important to stand up for Nevsun’s positive role in establishing a template for responsible international business in Eritrea.
At Nevsun, our ongoing objective is to be a responsible mining company and to provide a beneficial impact to society throughout the project cycle. We continuously engage with communities, stakeholders, and government in order to incorporate their feedback, concerns, and ideas on making the operation a more positive factor in people’s lives. A collaborative and transparent approach to stakeholder engagement contributes to our ability to maintain our long term social license to operate.
In 2015 we actively engaged with our diverse stakeholder populations. We define our stakeholders as groups or individuals that have a direct, indirect, or general interest in Nevsun’s operations. We regularly update affected groups through stakeholder identification exercises. We place the highest stakeholder priority on our employees and the communities near the Bisha Mine, as well as with the State of Eritrea. Through the year, we continued discussions with governments, NGOs, diaspora groups, and other interested stakeholders on how we were managing our social license to operate in Eritrea.
Our Commitment to Transparency
In 2014 and early 2015, a group of Canadian diplomatic officials were invited to Eritrea and the Bisha Mine, with the full support of the State of Eritrea. The group included the Canadian Ambassador to Eritrea, Mr. Dominique Rossetti, as well as Member of Parliament Scott Reid, who chaired the Canadian Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights. These individuals were provided tours of the country, access to various government ministries (including the National Federation of Workers), visits to the Bisha Mine, and candid discussions with our stakeholder populations.