At Vedanta, we believe that meaningful dialogue and positive outcomes lay the foundation for a strong social licence to operate.
Our operational locations are spread over a large cumulative area across India, South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Australia and Ireland, and this brings us in contact with diverse communities. Many of these communities are agrarian in nature, depending on farming or animal husbandry for their livelihood. Traditionally, these areas have ranked low on human development index parameters such as education, healthcare and nutrition, gender justice and women's empowerment, and economic development.
Enhanced economic activity ushers a multitude of new paradigms in these geographies and we realise the importance of expectation setting through communication, consultation and participation. Our goal is to jointly arrive at a shared purpose and vision that integrates local voices and choices.
Our structured process includes:
Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA) led by our HSE and CSR teams, to help in early identification of potentially affected communities at the planning stage of every new project
During the operational phase, these teams undertake ongoing consultation with interested and affected parties to manage changes in the risk profile of our operations and sustain our positive relationship with communities
Cultural Heritage Land Acquisition and Resettlement Standards include consideration of Indigenous People and have been developed to reflect relevant ICMM guidance (including ICMM Guidance Document: 'Indigenous Peoples and Mining') and IFC Performance Standards
A Guidance Note addressing Indigenous People/Vulnerable Tribal Groups (IP/VTGs) to help operations understand these standards. The core aim of the standard is to enable our teams to engage, negotiate, and partner with IPs/VTGs to avert negative impacts and risks for all stakeholders while establishing new projects
In FY 2017-18, several of our locations put their expansion plans into motion. As part of the process of seeking approvals from the appropriate government authorities, we held several public hearings with village communities, explaining to them the environmental and social impacts of our expanded operations. The EIA's that were conducted at the commencement of our operations can be found publicly on the website of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Grievances are the seeds of disputes. At Vedanta, we have institutionalised globally benchmarked redressal processes to deal with the grievances in a timely manner.
All community incidents (social and labour) and grievances are recorded and categorised as negligible (1), minor (2), moderate (3), serious (4) or disastrous (5)
Each grievance is addressed by the concerned department as per our Grievance Mechanism standard
Unresolved grievances are escalated to senior management for their perusal and decision-making
Community Engagement at SKM
The expansion of Sindesar Khurd Lead-Zinc underground Mine (SKM) from 4.5 million TPA to 6 million TPA ore production, and beneficiation from 5 million TPA to 6.5 million TPA, involved community engagement. The public hearing was conducted by Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board on 1st November 2017 outside SKM. It was presided by the Government officials and about 800 villagers from nearby areas participated in it and shared their views. The mine has since received the Environmental Clearance for the expansion, after a successful public hearing process.