Almaden has a long history of engagement with communities in the region around the Ixtaca project. Amongst many other initiatives, the Company has trained and employed drillers and driller helpers from the local area, held nine large-scale community meetings totalling over 4,100 people, taken 480 local adults on tours of operating mines in Mexico, and held monthly technical meetings on a diverse range of aspects relating to the mining industry and the Ixtaca project. On December 9, 2018, Almaden hosted the most recent large-scale community meeting which was attended by over 800 people, including representatives of the new Federal Government in Mexico.
In 2017, Almaden engaged a third-party consultant to lead a community consultation and impact assessment at the Ixtaca project. In Mexico, only the energy industry requires completion of such an assessment (known in Mexico as a Trámite Evaluación de Impacto Social, or “EVIS”) as part of the permitting process. The purpose of these studies is to identify the people in the area of influence of a project (“Focus Area”), and assess the potential positive and negative consequences of project development to assist in the development of mitigation measures and the formation of social investment plans. To Almaden’s knowledge, this is the first time a formal EVIS has been completed in the minerals industry in Mexico, and as such reflects the Company’s commitment to best national and international standards in Ixtaca project development.
The EVIS and subsequent work on the development of a Social Investment Plan were conducted according to Mexican and international standards such as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Equator Principles, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and Due Diligence Guidance for Meaningful Stakeholder Engagement in the Extractive Sector.
Fieldwork for the EVIS was conducted by an interdisciplinary group of nine anthropologists, ethnologists and sociologists graduated from various universities, who lived in community homes within the Ixtaca Focus Area during the study to allow for ethnographic immersion and an appreciation for the local customs and way of life. This third-party consultation sought voluntary participation from broad, diverse population groups, with specific attention to approximately one thousand persons in the Focus Area.
This extensive consultation has resulted in changes to some elements of the mine design, including the planned construction of a permanent water reservoir to serve the local area long after mine closure, and the shift to dry-stack filtered waste management. The Company looks forward to advancing further elements of the community Social Investment Plan as mine permitting and construction advance.