SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy, is a goal that we feel is central to improving community well-being, in line with Kinross’ value of Outstanding Corporate Citizenship.
Access to affordable and clean energy is an important driver of socio-economic development and well-being around the world. With many of Kinross’ projects and mines located in remote areas, mine development has played a critical role in bringing reliable utilities, including energy services to our operations and to nearby local communities that otherwise would not have access. At Kinross’ established mines, we continue to identify opportunities to improve community well-being by improving access to new and alternative energy sources and advancing SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy. Through engagement and surveys with local beneficiary communities, we are able to show that improved energy access is delivering real value to local communities living near our mines.
Outstanding Corporate Citizenship is a core value at Kinross and a fundamental principle in our business strategy. Our underlying purpose is to generate value, in the broadest sense, for our stakeholders through responsible mining. With a diverse portfolio of mines and development projects located in six countries, the nature of the value we generate takes many forms. Each of Kinross’ host communities offers us unique opportunities to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by supporting specific development priorities and local needs, and one of these is SDG 7.
Kinross is implementing programs across several mine sites to reach sub-goal 7.1, ensuring universal access to reliable energy services by 2030. Kinross’ programs include either connection to the grid or the provision of renewable energy solutions for individual homes in remote communities. The scale of recent programs resides at the local community level in areas surrounding our mining operations.
One of these relates to communities near Kinross’ Chirano mine, located in the northwestern region of Ghana, a heavily rural area. Prior to the operation of the Chirano gold mine, local communities were not connected to the national grid. A power line was brought into the area to support the development of the mine in 2004, and through 2009 connected many local villages in the area to the new grid. While most residents in the catchment area of the mine have had access to electricity for many years, two small local villages of Kwawkrom and Kranikrom did not.
In early 2016, Kinross’ Chirano mine contracted a local engineering company to connect Kwawkrom to the National electrical grid. Through partnership and collaboration with the Nexans Foundation, the Electricity Company of Ghana, and local authorities and elected representatives, Kwanikrom was connected in 2019 (https://www.nexans.com.gh/eservice/Ghana-en/navigatepub_159016_-37432/Nexans_Foundation_extends_electricity_to_Kwanikrom.html)
In various countries, Kinross is supporting local communities which are off the electricity grid in gaining access to renewable, free sources of energy. In Brazil, we partnered with the Federal Institute of Triângulo Mineiro, to install solar power at farms in the rural community of Santa Rita in 2016. In Mauritania, we have provided solar energy for individual families living in the desert near our Tasiast mine. More recently, we introduced a new program in 2019 to install solar power for Colla Indigenous communities living in Chile’s Cordillera.
In Ghana, 67% of the rural population has access to electricity vs. 94% in urban areas (World Bank, 2018 data). In 2004, when the Chirano mine started operations, the rural electrification rate was just 28% and most of the immediate villages were not on the National grid.
Prior to connecting Kwawkrom and Kwanikrom to the grid, a survey of community members was conducted and the following impacts of not having electricity were identified:
Of those people surveyed, 60% identified that these factors had a negative impact on quality of life. Following connection to the grid, more than 80% of the respondents recognized a very significant improvement in quality of life, through mitigation of the negative impacts combined with positive benefits such as establishment of new businesses (e.g., retail stores with refrigeration capacity, a communication centre, and sewing establishment). In addition, the availability of lighting has allowed children to extend their study hours in the night, freeing up daytime hours for other activities. Similar to other local villages, cooking is still done principally with wood since this is locally abundant and cheap. The vast majority of people surveyed (94%) indicated their satisfaction with living in the community. Following the recent connection to the grid for the village of Kwanikrom, the Nexans Foundation has committed to providing a corn milling machine once electricity meters have been installed in the community. By the end of 2019, 100% of the 20 communities in the Chirano mines’ catchment area were connected to the National electrical grid. Kinross contracts with small, local businesses to ensure that power line corridors are maintained, reducing the risk of power cuts due to shorting; through these local contracts more than 50 people have income.
For Kinross’ solar power initiatives in Brazil and Chile, the positive impacts have both freed up income otherwise spent on expensive sources of diesel generated power and improved overall well-being. For the 36 families in Santa Rita, the solar power, combined with electric shower heads, has resulted in hot water for these families for the first time. In Chile, 13 homes in Colla communities now have solar power, providing energy for external and internal lighting. The homes are energized through solar panels, modules, batteries, galvanized structures with concrete foundations, inverters and their respective network tests. Fences were built around the panels to protect them from animals. More than 80% of community members agreed that this program positively impacted their well-being, economy, autonomy and way of life. This source of clean energy reduces their reliance on small, diesel generators which create both noise and pollution. Work continues with this program to connect remaining homes.
In the local community dwelling in the desert near our Tasiast mine in Mauritania, we worked with the local community to provide single home solar power units, resulting in an increase to 85% of homes with solar power in 2017 vs 24% in 2011. In Mauritania, 44% of the population as a whole has access to electricity, while in rural areas this is less than 1% on average (2018 data, World Bank). The solar power units have led to a corresponding reduction in the use of torches, oil maps and candles for nighttime illumination, saving on cost and also reducing contamination.
Kinross’ sustainability communications play an important role in building stakeholder awareness of our sustainability strategy and performance including our work to advance the SDGs. Our corporate web site Kinross.com is the definitive source of up-to-date information on Kinross’ activities and priorities. Together with our Sustainability Report the information available via Kinross.com is building awareness of the SDGs. Available to both internal and external stakeholders, the structure and content of our corporate site reflect the important role of the SDGs in the context of Kinross’ sustainability program and highlight Kinross’ SDG priorities and supporting initiatives. We highlight our commitment to SDGs in a dedicated section of our website, and also provide detailed information on the goals we are advancing through a SDG summary document highlighted on that page.
Through traditional and social media, Kinross promotes readership of our Sustainability Report across all of our stakeholder base.
Externally, we communicate our work towards the SDGs by using extracts in presentations with a broad range of corporate and site-level stakeholders including investors, community leaders and non-governmental organizations. As a participant in the United Nations Global Compact since 2010, our annual Communication on Progress drives awareness of progress pertaining to the SDGs.
Internally, Kinross’ program of sustainability communications to employees is raising awareness of the SDGs across our global workforce. We promote our support of the SDGs by drawing attention to the social outcomes arising from our work on the front-line of our operations. In the case of community energy projects, for example, we share information at internal meetings, engaging with specific technical functions, such as energy, to identify opportunities to advance SDG goals through new projects. Kinross World, our online employee newsletter available in five languages, recently published a story on Kinross’ work to advance SDG 7 in Ghana. To learn more, see Connecting communities near Chirano to Ghana’s electrical grid.
At the mine site level in our operating jurisdictions, our teams engage with authorities and local partners on the SDGs. For example, at our Paracatu mine in Brazil we are working with the local sustainable development agency to update the Paracatu 2030 sustainable development plan in line with the SDGs. Recently our Chirano mine in Ghana was asked by the national minerals commission to provide a full report on our contribution to the SDGs.
In our 2019 Sustainability Report (www.kinross.com), we documented our company approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. Across our global business, we have taken a precautionary and preventive approach focused in key areas and aligned with the following priority SDGs:
We put in place a strong governance structure with a pandemic task force reporting to the Chief Technical Officer. We enacted protocols across all of our mines, projects and offices to mitigate the risk of infection. Following the advice of public health experts, we implemented key measures to encourage working from home whenever possible, support physical distancing, promote additional hygiene practices, and other protective measures. We analyzed the pandemic risk to our local communities including: the degree of physical connectivity between our mine sites and the host community, the quality and availability of local health care, the presence of, and impact on, vulnerable groups, and the culture of compliance with physical distancing measures. We also took into account the official restrictions and rules put in place by local authorities. With this information, we adapted our community engagement plan and planned community activities to respond to the impacts and risks of the pandemic. Key impact areas cover:
As the impacts of the pandemic have played out differently across our host communities and at different times, we have responded accordingly. By the end of June 2020, Kinross’ COVID-19 response included approximately $5.4 million in donations at the local community, regional, and national level in our operating jurisdictions and in Canada.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, our contributions and partnerships have spanned four key areas of activity.
In the area of community health, Kinross has coordinated and partnered with national and regional health authorities, local communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to deliver support where it is most urgently needed. Among our initiatives, we provided masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies in all our host communities, worked with local authorities to build awareness on how to mitigate the spread of the virus, provided resources to deal with stress during this difficult time, including a families-in-crisis hotline in Alaska and outreach services for families in Nevada. In Toronto, Canada, we made a donation to the Sunnybrook Foundation in support of an urgent research initiative for COVID-19 treatment.
To support health services, Kinross has contributed to health-care institutions and hospitals, including providing emergency medical supplies, equipment and COVID-19 test kits. In Mauritania, we donated 38 ambulances and worked with the Health Ministry to improve facilities in the emergency ward of the main hospital in Nouakchott; in Russia, we are working with regional health authorities in Chukotka, Magadan, and Khabarovsk to supply equipment to improve hospital capabilities. In Brazil, Kinross is collaborating with the Minas Gerais federation of industry to support health services, and provided test kits for the hospital in Paracatu.
Kinross is also contributing to food security focused on supporting vulnerable people who have limited access to food during stay-at-home orders. In Alaska, we partnered with local charities to provide food for homeless and elderly people. In Nevada, we worked with local partners to deliver supplementary school meals to families in need, increased the capacity of local food banks through donations of fridges and freezers, and delivered food packages to individual elderly people. In Mauritania, we expanded the scope of our annual Ramadan food donation in rural communities and have refocused our community investment plan for the rest of 2020 to target food security as a priority. In Chile, we are supporting vulnerable families in the Paipote neighbourhood of Copiapó with food stamps for use in local shops.
The local economies where we have operations are also in need Kinross’ support. We are helping local community businesses and organization survive the economic impacts of the pandemic. In Nevada, we partnered with the SW Nevada regional development authority to provide grants to more than 30 businesses. In Alaska and Nevada, we supported local businesses by purchasing gift cards and donating them to hospital emergency room volunteers, medical staff and food security volunteers. In Chile, we worked with local authorities to implement an online “cyberweek” promotion to help local small businesses maintain sales. At Tasiast, we engaged a local women’s co-operative, previously trained through a Company program, to make face masks for our employees and their families. A similar initiative was done at Chirano with local youth groups. In Brazil, we developed an online portal for Paracatu’s well-established Integrar program along with links to a wide variety of community initiatives.
Given the uncertainty over the impacts and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kinross’ future actions and initiatives are yet to be fully developed. Nevertheless, we will continue to focus our work and community support on the aforementioned priorities over the long-term. In keeping with our approach to sustainability, we will work with our community stakeholders and partners to address priority needs in a manner that has the most meaningful impact and positive outcomes.
Further information can be found in our sustainability report at www.kinross.com.