By Steve Fiscor
This week more mining companies started stepping up to support the communities in which they operate. Glencore and Newmont established community funds. Barrick Gold contributed to multiple national funds in Africa. Resolute was supporting communities in West Africa. En+ was delivering meals to retirees in Russia.
Glencore, which operates in more than 180 sites and offices in 35 countries, established a $25 million fund. The scale and diversity of Glencore’s operations means the impact of the virus varies by location, explained Ivan Glasenberg, CEO, Glencore. “Many of our operations are located in remote areas with limited public healthcare systems,” Glasenberg said. “Our teams are working closely with governments, health agencies and others key responders to identify their needs to provide the most effective response possible.”
The Glencore Community Support Fund is designed to be flexible and responsive and complement existing efforts by the company’s local teams. “It will initially prioritize assistance to local health authorities and community organizations to help them respond to the immediate impacts of the crisis,” Glasenberg said. “Imperatives such as access to clean water, hygiene products and medical equipment will be important in some regions. In others, our efforts may focus on enabling students to continue learning, despite schools being closed. We hope that these efforts will help ease the burden on our host communities as we work together toward a common goal of combatting the impact of the coronavirus.”
The Newmont $20 million Global Community Support Fund builds on other local contributions and efforts the company has implemented over the last month. The company will partner with local governments, medical institutions, charities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to target funds toward addressing the greatest needs with a view to serving as a catalyst for long-term resiliency and future community development, the company said.
“Our employees, local contractors and their families live in the communities that host our operations and the health of our business is inextricably linked to the health of those communities,” Newmont CEO Tom Palmer said. “We not only want to protect our people and host communities from this pandemic, we want to build lasting resiliency so that our host communities thrive after the worst of this pandemic passes. As a global business with operations in eight countries, we are committed to doing our part to combat this disease and protect people and their livelihoods.”
Newmont has identified three focus areas to ensure that its financial support will have the most positive impact, including employee and community health, food security and local economic resilience.
Barrick Gold donated $1.3 million to Côte d’Ivoire, where it operates the Tongon mine. The company along with its West African logistics partner, CSTTAO, donated $972,000 to Senegal. Twiga Minerals Corp., a joint venture between Barrick and the Tanzanian government, also announced it would contribute $1.7 million in the form of critical equipment and expertise to help prevent the spread of the virus in Tanzania. Barrick Gold also donated $1.5 million to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it operates the Kibali gold mine. Last week, the company donated more than $500,000 to Zambia. Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow said they were making these donations to help strengthen these governments’ hands in their fight against COVID-19.
It wasn’t just the gold majors, Resolute Mining committed more than $1 million to the COVID-19 funds established by the governments of Mali and Senegal. In addition to direct financial assistance, Resolute has been supplying personal protection equipment, test kits and other medical equipment. The company made the financial contribution. “Extraordinary events require an extraordinary response,” Resolute Managing Director and CEO John Welborn said. “Resolute will continue to work closely with our host governments and local communities to keep people safe and maintain our operational capacity.”
In Russia, En+ Group, a vertically integrated aluminum and power producer, launched an initiative to deliver free food supplies to 16,000 of its retired former employees, many of whom are considered high-risk for infection and are therefore unable to leave their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“En+ Group is a family,” CEO of En+ Group Vladimir Kiryukhin said. “Our employees work incredibly hard every day and give years of service to our company. They are the reason we have a business — the reason we are successful today — and so it is only right that we recognize that debt by looking after them in their time of need.”
In key regions where En+ operates, volunteers from the company’s metals and energy businesses are delivering free grocery baskets to the homes of their predecessors. Former employees over the age of 70 will receive monthly deliveries with enough food to last them a month. “Should our retired colleagues require any additional food or medicine, we have a dedicated phone line, connecting them to a company representative who can arrange purchase and delivery,” Kiryukhin said.
Currently, the En+ retiree initiative is expected to run until July, but it could be extended.