In developing one of the world’s largest underground copper mines—at a site near a popular outdoor recreation area—Twin Metals Minnesota must assure stakeholders and the public that it can mine in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
Although construction of the mine is several years away, Twin Metals sought to develop a meaningful new stakeholder-engagement and community-expectation strategy that would weave sustainability into the cultural fabric of the company, while serving as an effective framework for the company to identify, address, and measure the social and environmental impacts and opportunities of the project.
BSR worked with Twin Metals to develop a three-part strategy based on early engagement with a broad range of stakeholders:
- Interview a broad range of stakeholders early. We interviewed stakeholders from local, state, and federal government offices, as well as community leaders and representatives of environmental NGOs. These interviews revealed connections between interrelated stakeholder groups and issues, which helped the company identify opportunities to maximize project benefits for surrounding communities.
- Incorporate stakeholder interviews into the company’s emerging sustainability strategy. Twin Metals is in the process of building a sustainability strategy from the ground up by incorporating the issues, concerns, and opportunities gleaned from more than 50 stakeholder interviews—ensuring that the company’s strategy will resonate with local communities.
- Embrace innovation. The stakeholder interview process gave Twin Metals several innovative ways to analyze the social and environmental impacts of the project. For example, we helped identify partnership opportunities for workforce development and local procurement to ensure that local workers are well-trained for technical mining jobs, and that local sourcing of materials is embedded in the company’s strategy. Engagement with environmental NGOs gave the company a more holistic understanding of the environmental issues that are important to these stakeholders and the opportunity to develop more effective mitigation techniques.
By starting the stakeholder-engagement process early—and planning from the outset to incorporate the ideas generated into its sustainability strategy—Twin Metals will be able to build a stronger, more credible strategy. Through this process, the company has identified opportunities and risks early enough to act on them, and the company’s approach is establishing a strong foundation for future collaboration with stakeholders.
BSR’s work with Twin Metals revealed that early engagement with a broad range of stakeholders is an essential part of building a strong relationship with stakeholders—especially for a company just launching a sustainability program. Stakeholder views can both strengthen a company’s approach to sustainability and lend credibility to the company within the stakeholder community. This project also demonstrated that it’s possible for stakeholder engagement to provide valuable insight and guidance that will lead to the development of a more sustainable mine.
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