For us, meaningful community engagement is a continuous process of contacting, dialoguing and interacting with local stakeholders to ensure they are adequately informed and have an opportunity to participate in decisions that affect their future.
Social acceptance — the willingness of stakeholders to accept our business activities — is never guaranteed and evolves over time. It is also an essential component of sustainable development. We are committed to empowering sustainable development and believe that sharing the value created by Great Panther’s activities contributes to the social and economic development of our host communities. This topic is considered one of the most material by the communities and governments where we operate.
We invest in developing and supporting our communities, so they can be the best places to live and work for our people, their families and friends, our suppliers and local citizens. As outlined in our Social Investment Policy, we prioritize projects that help improve the quality of life in the surrounding communities. These initiatives are determined through active and frequent, two-way stakeholder engagement to identify local priorities, including meetings with community members and surveys.
Informed by community input, our investments generally focus on three main areas:
- Socio-economic development
- Public health and safety
- Natural and cultural heritage
Collaboration and Consultation
A priority of our community engagement approach is building sound relations with local communities and addressing conflict and potential conflict in a timely and effective manner. We work closely with our host communities – including various levels of government, civil society and local businesses – to plan our activities, reach land-use agreements, resolve any concerns and, ultimately create shared value in the communities where we operate. There are no indigenous communities in the immediate area of influence of Great Panther’s sites (self-determined and/or as identified by national groups or international legislation and standards).
Inclusive and transparent processes are as important as outcomes.
Since our business depends upon predictable access to land and natural resources, and in many situations, we do not own the land outright, positive negotiations with the landowners are critical. Agreements are reached through negotiation processes, which can range from a few days to more than a year, where both parties can express their interests and find common ground. We aim to compensate landowners fairly for the use of their lands and ensure use them in ways that respect their cultural and spiritual traditions.
Great Panther is committed to maintaining or incorporating grievance mechanisms at our mine sites to formally and transparently manage community concerns. This process enables us to address sensitive topics ranging from labour issues to water, land use and environmental concerns, as well as noise or disruption from our operations, construction, or materials transport.
Our proactive, collaborative approach across our operations in Brazil, Mexico and Peru helps us become a respected and welcome member of each community, earn and maintain our social acceptance (also known as social license to operate) and deliver on the objective of making a lasting, positive impact.
Local Hiring and Procurement
We apply local hiring and procurement practices across all our operations, which provide considerable economic and social benefits to our communities.
Great Panther’s success hinges on the efforts of our employees and contractors who work on the frontlines of our operations across the Americas. We must therefore ensure that we attract the best local talent, retain them with fair compensation and motivate them to give their best every day. By sourcing workers from within our host communities, we can maximize the benefits that flow into, and stay within, those communities. This topic is considered most material by our employees and contractors, supply chain, and the communities where we operate.
We prioritize local hiring in our mining operations. These include full time, permanent employee positions that fulfill key management, professional and technical roles, including contractors. They generally work in the technical areas of mining, exploration, equipment maintenance, laboratory and analysis, masonry, welding, private security, haulage. At times we may need to recruit employees or contractors from outside the community when it is not possible to find necessary qualifications within the local workforce.
To ensure our local workforce is fairly rewarded for their work, producing a positive economic impact in the host community, we provide competitive salaries and benefits that meet or exceed relevant national or state employment laws.
Great Panther’s supply chain function purchases, stores, and delivers more than $ 182 million annually in supplies, equipment, and services to our mines and offices. Our team sources products ranging from diesel fuel and chemical reagents to IT equipment and service providers from more than 1430 vendors.
Since we are invested in the economic success of our host communities, we also give preference to local suppliers as part of our procurement strategy. By “buying local,” we strengthen the relationship between Great Panther and local businesses while reducing our shipping costs and operating expenses. Most importantly, it fosters an entrepreneurial spirit in our host communities, which has a strong multiplier effect for local employment and business.
Training and Development
To create and sustain a skilled workforce, we are developing the current and future capabilities of our employees and contractors.
In the mining industry, workforce knowledge and skills are essential to developing and maintaining a productive, safe and sustainable operation. By investing in the capacity and competency of our employees and contractors, both our company and the local communities are well positioned for long-term success. A workforce that is equipped with strong skills, expertise and experience is able to strengthen the community’s economic potential, access new opportunities at the end of a mine’s lifecycle and achieve fulfilling individual growth. This topic is considered one of the most material by our employees and contractors.
Investing in our People
Great Panther delivers training and development in a number of forms, customized to the individual’s role, ranging from management and leadership programs, to in-class safety and equipment activities, to on-the-job, technical skills-building. Training for employees and contractors focuses on key themes including safety, environmental, rescue brigade and personal development. Each mining site has an annual training plan to set out priorities, plans, and budgets for the year.
Also, employees at our mine sites receive an annual performance review. It is based on their individual performance, tied to their department and company objectives, in addition to topics such as teamwork, self-initiative, skills development, work quality and communication effectiveness. Contractors are evaluated for their ability to carry out their work effectively, but no individual performance reviews are conducted.
Child and Forced Labour
We do not, in any way, support or facilitate child labour or forced labour practices. This applies to our mining operations, exploration and development activities and all subcontracted activities. We do our best to ensure that none of our activities result in direct or indirect support of such practices. We will take immediate action to terminate any such arrangement should we become aware that such methods are being supported or enabled by one of our subcontracted suppliers.
Across Great Panther, 54% of our employees are unionized, all of them in Brazil. The freedoms to associate and to bargain collectively are fundamental rights that make it possible to promote and realize decent conditions at work. We are committed to upholding our employees' and contractors' rights to decide whether they would unionize. Great Panther’s goal is to work collaboratively with our unions, which broadens the health and safety of our people and supports our business and local communities. In 2019, we had no strikes or lockouts at any of our sites.