For Nevsun, CSR and Sustainability are an opportunity to make a difference; that is, by supporting Eritrea’s nation-building aspirations and through their economic and social development community programs. That is why we aim to ensure that CSR is integrated as a core part of our internal and external business systems.
ENVIRONMENT / COMMUNITY
One of our core corporate values includes the protection of the environment and we therefore ensure that we take all steps to avoid, manage or mitigate environmental impacts. This includes projects and processes already in place to address concerns on the impact of mining operations on the local community and environment.
In 2016, our capacity building programs included the completion of our inaugural sustainable Community Assistance Project, with two further projects now close to completion. We completed several environmental studies to measure and further protect precious water resources and mitigate the impacts of dust.
HUMAN RIGHTS, HEALTH AND SAFETY, AND WORKERS RIGHTS
We followed through on our suggested initiative in 2015, that is to ensure that we fully train all our mine site security forces on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, which we achieved successfully in 2016. Our greatest asset is our workers and we invest heavily in training to ensure that they optimize on their potential. We are proud to maintain our excellent safety record that continues to exceed North American industrial safety metrics, which we do through the sharing and training of safety procedures, identifying risks and incorporating leading technology into our workplace systems to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our employees. Discussions and negotiations were held in 2016 with the National Confederation of Eritrean Workers (NCEW) and based on these discussions, the Bisha Mine’s workforce will be moving towards unionization in 2017, an important milestone for the sector.
We adopted and implemented a number of important human rights initiatives that adhere to the evolving international norms and standards, including a review of our processes for implementation, and for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We plan to transfer our learnings from the HRIA process at the Bisha Mine, and incorporate human rights due diligence during our pre-development and construction stage at our new project in Serbia. In the past year we have expanded our constructive dialogue with stakeholders around the world. We consider this an important indicator and an integral feedback loop for the collection of important data we can then incorporate as part of our continued engagement and improvement of our CSR processes and therefore performance.
These commitments set not only a responsible precedent and template for responsible business conduct, but also provide a high bar for future companies wishing to operate in Eritrea; thus ensuring that they do so in a responsible, ethical, transparent, and manner and as prescribed by the State of Eritrea. We are acutely aware that mining carried out in a responsible manner is beneficial to the Company, its shareholders and stakeholders and the people of Eritrea, that is, through the mobilization of the labour force, investment and development of infrastructure.
It is of additional benefit that our environmental, social, and human rights performance and successes are generating interest by many other companies now wishing to operate in Eritrea, where we are current leaders in the sector for advice and experience. It has however been the leadership of the Eritrean Government that has made all of this possible. They have instituted laws, regulations, incentive schemes and ongoing monitoring and enforcement to ensure mining is undertaken in a responsible way that benefits the people of Eritrea first and foremost.
We intend to keep building on these positive results throughout 2017 by continuing to implement human rights initiatives, continuing to engage with relevant parties regarding the protection of the environment of nearby communities, and their associated regional ecosystems and water resources, as well as providing mutual benefit for our stakeholders through our strategy of core growth.
Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility May 4, 2017