Anglo American plc, with its subsidiaries, joint ventures and associates, is a global leader in the mining and natural resources sectors. It has operations in Africa, Europe, South and North America and Australia. Anglo American has significant interests in gold (51% in Anglo Gold), platinum (71% Anglo Platinum), diamonds (through a 45% interest in De Beers), coal, base and ferrous metals, industrial minerals and forest products. In 1955 Anglo American founder, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer said, "The aim of this group is, and will remain, to make profits for our shareholders, but to do it in such a way as to make a real and lasting contribution to the communities in which we operate". As a part of that commitment, which is unchanged, Anglo American is a member of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development and is actively involved in a number of CSR initiatives.
Anglo American works in a very high impact industry in often quite fragile communities. This means that the company has particular responsibilities and explains why sustainable development is central to its long-term license to operate. Edward Bickham, Executive Vice President of External Affairs says, “CSR initiatives that lead to sustainable development are essential not just for us, but for the communities in which we work”.
This profile will explore one section of these CSR activities - namely how Anglo American engages with the community around both new and existing operations.
Before moving into an area…
Anglo American has been involved with community issues for many years, but it has only recently developed formal Community Engagement Plans. These Plans will be used for each - “significant” - Anglo American operation. They plan to have them in use at their sites by the end of 2003. These plans formalise the importance of making stakeholder engagement more strategic, structured and transparent. It is also hoped that they will promote accountability. Integrated into three-year rolling programmes and linked to core business objectives through risk management, they are essentially a new type of business discipline. They are designed to be flexible enough to be relevant to Anglo American’s operations across diverse geographies.
Since the company operates in over 50 countries, the development of CSR policies that are adaptable and applicable to a wide range of situations is crucial. Anglo American’s Community Engagement Plans therefore all have an in-built mechanism that allows for cultural differences between operations. This process requires each operation to define:
- The stakeholders
- The issues - how to manage them
- The impacts (positive & negative)
- The resources and accountabilities for community relations and projects
- The process for handling complaints
- The review mechanism for this process
An example of how this works in practice is the new zinc mine in the rural community of Lisheen in Ireland. Here, before any physical work started, an environmental and social impact assessment was carried out. This included widespread stakeholder consultation with members of the local community, non-governmental organisations and government agencies. For Anglo American, it was very important that stakeholders’ concerns about the project were not only heard but used to inform and improve the company’s development of the mine. Another benefit of this approach was the establishment of productive working relationships with surrounding communities and local government agencies.
One of the challenges of implementing the Plans has been the sheer scale of the task of adapting them to fit not only the many diverse operations in Anglo’s portfolio but also the whole range of different communities in which the company operates.
… and when already there
Anglo American has developed a toolkit approach to integrate community engagement into its mature operations. This takes the form of a Rapid Socio-Economic Assessment of what produces positive results, what does not and what could be done better.
A challenge has been to overcome local resistance to this centrally driven initiative. However, once the relevance and success of the toolkit have been demonstrated it has been easier to encourage buy-in.
This programme is still in its pilot phase, but eventually each operation should have its own assessment, whether done in-house or with a local consultant or a local university. By using this toolkit Anglo American has identified business development opportunities at the local level and this in turn has often been a catalyst for other partners to come together. For example, Anglo American’s mine - at Namakwa Sands in South Africa - became one of the founder members of the country’s West Coast Business Development Centre in 1998. The Centre identified 24 business opportunities that were then sent to 47 local small, medium and micro-enterprises - approximately $1 million worth of new contracts for local businesses were secured.
The business benefits
There have been two major business benefits resulting from Anglo American’s CSR activities: a socially inclusive approach helps preserve Anglo American’s licence to operate and allows the company to have the edge as the investor, business partner and employer of choice. Moreover, the company has found that CSR activities have improved employee morale and recruitment: employees feel that the integrity of its operations has improved and want to work in such an environment.
Why is it CSR?
These activities are all about being receptive to stakeholders’ concerns and planning how the company can have a positive impact on other people. This echoes a central feature of much CSR activity in general – being accountable and transparent to stakeholder concerns. Anglo American’s activities have allowed it to start to minimise the negative aspects of business operations that it sees as essential for the continuing success of its business.
Once the roll-out of the Community Engagement plans is completed, Bickham wishes to “-look back at the quality and aim to raise this through peer group learning-”. This is a way of ensuring that the programme integrates naturally into the company outlook. As with any global business, a key challenge will be overcoming local resistance to what are seen as centrally devised programmes. However, there is a feeling of excitement at Anglo American, as previous work on spreading best practice resulted not just in better local relations between company and community but in the creation of valuable new income streams for the local people.
For more information on Anglo American, please contact Edward Bickham on 020 7968 8888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Article 13 and CBI – CSR Case Study Series, September 2003
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