How Social Licence Gives Developers a Fair Wind

Dalradian Gold’s stakeholder engagement and CSR strategy at its high grade Curraghinalt gold deposit, Northern Ireland, is characterised by intensive face to face and one to one engagement. The strategy has witnessed remarkable success with the latest household survey conducted by the company in Spring 2015 showing a favourable rating of 93% for development of a mine.

Dalradian acquired the Curraghinalt deposit and licenses for 84,000 hectares in Northern Ireland in 2009. Since then, the company has grown the resource from 600,000 to 3.5 million ounces which includes 1.01 million ounces in the Measured and Indicated categories. First discovered in the 1980s, the deposit’s development was hampered by the conflict in Northern Ireland and the inability to secure licences to use explosives. With political stability and almost twenty years of peace, both of those obstacles have been overcome. An additional ongoing challenge is achieving social licence to mine in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, characterised by small agricultural holdings in a rural area that is also one of the most deprived electoral wards.

Anne Monaghan, Director of Stakeholder Engagement, explained that the history of exploration in the area, its economic profile and the company’s stakeholder engagement and CSR programme were all factors influencing the community’s decision to give Dalradian a fair wind. She said: “No doubt the fact that gold has been known of in the Sperrin Mountains since the 1600s in local folklore and legend and that the area has witnessed many a serious, and not so serious panner, meant that exploration was not new to people.

“What has been new, and what Dalradian has introduced into the equation, has been proving the economic viability of the deposit and moving it toward production. This combined with the realisation that its development will bring social and economic benefits to the community, in what is a remote and economically disadvantaged area, has been a game changer”.

The company has a community relations team on the ground daily. Comprised of fivepeople, four of whom are immediate to the local area, their communication and engagement with locals is intensive and robust. Characterised by fast, proactive information provision, complaints have been minimal with no site noise complaints from the current development phase. Staff give their time to communtiy and charity initiatives including environmental clean-up, recent assistance in packaging aid for the regugee crisis in Europe and small scale financial support for community groups and charities. The company provides Summer internships to students across a range of disciplines and supports and encourages local employment and training.

Patrick Anderson, CEO and Chairman of Dalradian Resources Inc., the Canadian parent company, has attended a number of information events with the community. He commented, “We are very pleased with the community support for our project as we are in the midst of a work program with the goal of delivering a feasibility study and applying for our mine construction permit in 2016.”

“Investors seek confidence in a range of categories; the grade and quantity of gold, of course, but also in the permitting process and in the social licence. We were successful in gaining planning permission for our current underground exploration program and also secured an explosives storage licence and a water licence. Operating responsibly and showing sensitivity to the local communities has enabled us to gain our social licence as well. The latter can be measured as easily as the size of a deposit, and is also as mutable as the price of gold. Having achieved it, our focus as we move to permit a mine in Northern Ireland is to maintain it.”

Anne Monaghan
Director of Stakeholder Engagement
Dalradian Gold