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Land Acquisition & Resettlement

Barrick seeks to avoid resettlement whenever possible by exploring alternative project designs.

At times, the construction or expansion of a mine may require land acquisition and, in some cases, resettlement of local communities. This can entail the physical displacement of people and a disruption of their livelihoods and represents a salient risk for Barrick. Poorly planned and managed land acquisition, including physical resettlement and economic displacement, can adversely impact communities and our relationships with them. Many companies, including ours, have been criticized for resettlement activities in the past.  

When resettlement cannot be avoided, Barrick’s Community Relations teams work together with affected households, communities, and host governments to manage resettlement in a manner consistent with local laws and international best practice. We know that effectively, responsibly, and respectfully managing the impacts and risks where displacement is unavoidable will help to limit negative outcomes, help us respect human rights, and support our license to operate.

Our approach to resettlement is set out in our Community Relations Management System (CRMS) and Community Relations Standard. Barrick has also developed guidance for sites contemplating resettlement to help them align with best practice.

When faced with resettlement, sites are required to develop a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP). RAPs are developed with input from the affected communities and local authorities. A comprehensive RAP includes an entitlement framework, comprehensive compensation standards, livelihoods development programs, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation. These activities, complemented by continuous engagement, help us to deliver on our commitment to improve or, at least, restore the livelihoods and living standards of displaced families and communities.

We did not undertake any resettlement activities at Barrick-operated mine sites in 2017.

Resettlement at the Porgera Joint Venture

Relocation programs have been a constant element at the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) since the mine began operations.

During the early stage of the mine’s life, landowners preferred moving close to or, where possible, within their existing customary land. Since commencing operations, the Special Mining Lease (SML) has experienced significant in-migration and population growth, to the point where a relocation approach that enables continued occupation on the SML is no longer feasible.

In 2012-13 the company undertook a comprehensive strategic review of relocation activities, with the aim of assessing whether to develop an alternative and improved process. The review was undertaken over an 18-month period and involved engagement with various local landowners and other stakeholders, and consideration of international practices and standards with respect to resettlement.

The key recommendation of the review was to pilot an “off SML Resettlement” framework at Porgera. The essential difference in the two approaches (relocation versus resettlement) will involve moving from a “relocation” compensation based approach to a “livelihood” resettlement framework, which aims to facilitate improved social and economic outcomes for relocated households and, in doing so, significantly reduce the likelihood of landowners gradually moving back to the SML, which has been a significant issue under more recent relocation programs at the mine. (Further details on the differences between relocation and resettlement are below.)

The term “pilot” is important in contextualizing this recommendation, as a number of significant challenges were identified that may impede the project’s successful implementation. Hence, the review recommends against attempting full-scale SML resettlement until such time as a pilot process of engagement, planning, implementation, and monitoring can be undertaken to determine and test the likelihood of successful resettlement.

The implementation of a resettlement project requires extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders, and, in particular landowners and the PNG Government. As the pilot project is to proceed on the basis of a resettlement project incorporating both physical relocation and livelihood restoration, various issues and challenges need to be collaboratively discussed with landowners and the PNG Government. Resettlement Committees established at the national, local, and community levels have been developed to allow for consistent, transparent and broad dialogue throughout the development and implementation of the pilot project.

In recognition of the various challenges and the need for extensive engagement with and support from various stakeholders, the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM) completed an independent assessment of the resettlement framework evaluating its overall “do-ability” and “suitability” for use in the Porgera context. The report concluded by highlighting 11 opinions on important matters for the key stakeholders to consider during the development and implementation of a resettlement approach.

A second phase of the CSRM work involves Chairing an Independent Observer Panel, consisting of three persons, including a resettlement subject matter expert, an extractive industry professional and a senior PNG national. The observers play an important role in:

  • Reviewing and observing the pilot’s ongoing planning, development, and implementation;
  • Considering the ability of stakeholders to work collaboratively through the various challenges;
  • Developing independent public reports describing the pilot project’s progress, challenges, successes and key learnings.

In addition to the assessment report, the panel has produced an annual report on the pilot project; annual reports are publicly available through the CSRM web-site.

Considering these factors, PJV’s commitment to resettlement must be expressed in terms of a joint government, landowner and PJV commitment to resettlement. Such a commitment will be formalized in agreements that outline the specific roles and responsibilities of all parties as well as core principles of what is being agreed and mutually supported.