Efforts to explore a better way strike gold
When Vancouver-based mineral explorer Batero Gold acquired a Colombian property in 2010, it had reasons to believe the land held strong potential for a mine-worthy gold-copper deposit. So did its institutional investors, including Sprott Asset Management, Sentry Select, RBC Global and Canaccord Capital, among others.
Instead of simply advancing an aggressive drill program to prove the resource, however, the company chose to explore a better way. As a result, not only has Batero been gathering data for its official resource estimate, the company has also laid social and environmental groundwork designed to support a promising future for itself and other stakeholders.
“Major producers see corporate social responsibility as progressively important, and view a company’s social licence to operate as being just as crucial as a mining permit,” says Batero president and CEO Brandon Rook. “We decided to build CSR into our exploration activities from the ground up. We believe CSR makes as much social and environmental sense as it does business sense.”
To help it formalize its CSR policies and practices, Batero engaged Green Spirit Strategies, a consultancy led by Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore. Batero’s work began with extensive consultations, surveys and baseline studies to help Batero better understand the local people and environment. “We wanted some real indications on how to make this project a success, not only for our shareholders, but also for the community,” said Mr. Rook.
That process ultimately enabled Batero to undertake initiatives ranging from social- and cultural-support programs to an innovative “Farms for the Future” program that offers farmers whose land was within Batero’s licence area an opportunity to trade it for more productive farmland a short distance away. The program also provided farmers with new homes and coffee processing equipment, a boon to their lives and ability to improve their standard of living.
The company’s environmental efforts include the deployment of water treatment systems that benefit the exploration operations and now bring much-needed potable water to the area.
Along the way, Batero also struck gold in the ground – lots of it.
“We feel this isn’t just the right thing to do. By working this way, we are maximizing the value of the asset for our shareholders, the local community and for a mining operator that may eventually choose to develop this resource,” said Mr. Rook.
For more information, visit www.explorebatero.com.