Ok Tedi’s Nigel Parker on social responsibility in mining


Nigel Parker, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML), shares his thoughts on corporate social responsibility, mine life extension and what it means to lead a major mining company in a global market.

Nigel Park, Managing Director and CEO of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd

Nigel Parker, Managing Director and CEO of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd

I first came to Papua New Guinea in 2001. At the time, I had residential status in Lae and I looked on PNG as this place with enormous potential, as a true paradise. Then, one day, I had the good fortune to visit the Western Province and suddenly I found myself standing in the middle of that vision, in Tabubil.

In 2007, when I was asked to join Ok Tedi Mining Limited, first as the General Manager Commercial and then later as MD and CEO, it was easy for me to return to what is a true mountain paradise. The changes I have witnessed in this area have been tremendous, some as a result of OTML’s mitigation programmes for its environmental legacy, others as a result of economic development in Tabubil, and Ok Tedi Development Foundation Limited’s (OTDF) social development programs. The company has always had a strong commitment to social development, indeed it is a requirement in this age of global markets, social media, and demands by society for increased transparency and reporting.

We have worked over the years to create a transparent dialogue and engagement process with the communities affected by our operations. More recently, the World Bank reviewed our Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) and, specifically, the processes we followed to bring about a movement towards gender equity in our social development programmes. We understand that the process we implemented to arrive at the CMCA and the ensuing development programmes we co-created with local people is unique, and we are very proud of this. Social responsibility for OTML means that we measure our commercial interests against our environmental legacy and the needs of society.

The company has always had a strong commitment to social development, indeed it is a requirement in this age of global markets, social media, and demands by society for increased transparency and reporting.

An opportunity exists to extend the life of the Ok Tedi mine to 2025, beyond the previously stated mine life of 2013. We are currently in the process of completing studies to understand and thoroughly model the commercial, environmental, and social implications of this mine life extension. We believe that we can deliver a mine extension that is environmentally and socially acceptable, and technically and financially feasible, and we have chosen to pursue a plan that has a lower environmental impact and is both technically and financially feasible over one that is best in terms of commercial returns. We are accountable to our stakeholders for our decisions and we need to demonstrate this through actions that honour their values and concerns. We wish to be able to continue to generate significant economic and social development opportunities for the people of the Western Province while assessing the overarching costs of mine life extension and closure to arrive at a place where we can reconcile the benefits against the effects.

In the years ahead, I would like to continue to steer OTML as a company 100% owned for the benefit of Papua New Guineans. I would like to see us achieve mine life extension, which will not only provide future economic benefits but also provide the opportunity to pursue additional projects directed towards mitigation of past legacies, such as an investigation into the possibility of establishing a secure tailings storage facility as an alternate to the current riverine discharge of tailings.

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As Chairman of the OTDF, I would like to see the OTDF continue to promote and co-create life changing positive capacity building programmes among mine affected communities.

We have taken a giant leap in the past two years in our transparency and reporting. We are moving toward an integrated reporting format that brings together not only international accounting principles around financial disclosure but also the Global Reporting Initiatives’ (GRI) G3.1 guidelines for transparency around social, environmental, and governance processes. This is the way to do business moving forward. Fifty-one of the world’s top economies are not countries, they are companies; OTML is itself an economy within the PNG economy. We take our role as the key economic driver in PNG and the Western Province, as well as a leader in social program delivery, very seriously.

This article first appeared in Business Advantage Papua New Guinea 2012/13