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Sepon takes steps to improve dialogue with local community

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MMG LXML Sepon, the gold and copper mine in Savannakhet province, has begun a review of its grievance mechanism.

Grievance procedures are a transparent mechanism for community members to seek information or raise concerns, as well as register complaints or grievances if they feel that any aspect of mining operations has affected them negatively.

Such mechanisms are common amongst socially responsible businesses. The review of thegrievance mechanism at Sepon will implement changes to make the system more effective and easier to use for community members.

27 communities around the mine (around 13,000 people) are directly or indirectly affected by either mining or exploration activities. 13 of these communities – around 7000 people – are considered to be directly affected.

Sepon mine recorded 34 grievances in 2010, compared with 41 in 2009. Most were related to land access, requests for employment or environmental issues.

‘While we have a very low number of grievances already, we want to further improve access to our grievance procedures. There are likely to be some issues or questions that community members wish to discuss, but don’t know how best to raise them. We want to help local communities by listening, capturing and addressing any issues they might have as soon as they arise, before they become grievances,” said Saman Aneka, Director of MMG LXML Sepon.

Currently, community members access the grievance mechanism by contacting one of the mine’s Community Relations officers or writing a letter to the district authorities. The current review process will gather input from community members and use this to design easier and more effective ways to access the mechanism. The aim is that changes to the system should be fully implemented by February 2012.

MMG is one of nine mining companies who were asked to help pilot-test guidelines on complaints and grievance mechanisms that were developed by the International Council on Minerals and Metals (ICCM), an industry body which works to improve sustainable development performance in the mining sector. The process will result in guidelines for all ICCM members to follow.

Vilabouly villager is preparing rice

Photo: Improving access to the grievance mechanism will benefit communities by helping ensure that issues are addressed early.