Corporate Social Responsibility
Satellite-based communications in the mining industry have escalated in recent years, owing to the reduction in costs and increase in operational productivity. Satellite-based global systems for mobile communication (GSM), Wi-Fi and other types of wireless communications are now being deployed hand-in-hand. Using one or more wireless base stations, local coverage can be provided simultaneously to support either the mining operation local or corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes, or both.
These communications can be linked to the public switched network and the worldwide web via satellite. This trend is so well advanced that communications companies routinely integrate satellite-wireless solutions to support mining operations. The power of this combination is even greater when delivery of CSR solutions is included. GVF's 'Satcommunity Initiative' is enabling mining companies to take advantage of these synergies.
For example, in remote areas, local stakeholders can use GSM and Wi-Fi access to not only communicate locally, but also get access to information and resources from around the world. Communications should be understood as a tool, underpinning and enhancing a company’s broader CSR efforts.
Extending the use of their satellite communications networks to support (CSR) programmes in the communities where the mining operations are planned or under way achieves several key aims:
- The mining company can satisfy its CSR obligations at a lower cost by simply adding capacity to existing network infrastructure while providing communications access to local stakeholders.
- Communications can be used to drive sustainability for other CSR activities, such as providing distance education for schools, telehealth services for clinics and hospitals, disaster preparedness for vulnerable communities and access for local farmers to information that can increase crop yields.
- By establishing communications links between the mining company and the local community, it improves the mining company's awareness of priorities and reinforces its ability to respond appropriately. For example, if there is an opportunity to train local personnel to be hired as replacements for expatriates, the network can be used for corporate education. If mining-safety practices are an issue, training can be facilitated by the network.
- The two-way flow of communications can also be used as a tool for public consultation and disclosure, if properly structured, enabling companies to gather timely feedback from community stakeholders. (GVF was told by a mining company that closer co-ordination with a dissatisfied local community, at one of their mine sites, could have saved the company more than $1-billion.)
To learn more, contact Steve Schmida, Chairman, GVF Mining Communications Forum.