First Phase: Before you leave

Resources & Downloads

Step 1

Do Desktop

Step 2

Conduct a

Step 3

for Your
First Visit

Step 1: Do Desktop Preparation

Before you make your first visit to the project site, prepare yourself. This does not need to be complicated, but it is critical. Go online and search for information on a short list of key factors such as conflict in the area, presence of indigenous peoples or traditional sites, protected environmental areas, past mining activity and attitudes towards it. To find this information, search for the following: the name of the community and province/region, civil society groups in the area, the name of your or other companies that work or have worked there, and so on. The following checklist will help you get a preliminary sense of the above-ground situation in the project area:

General socio-political context in the region (travel websites, country-specific websites)
  1. History, cultural issues, main political parties, ethnic make-up of the population
    • To be aware of sensitive issues, demonstrate respect, avoid missteps
  2. Cultural issues of significance, traditions, local beliefs, local languages (including indigenous languages)
    • To be aware of sensitive issues, demonstrate respect, avoid missteps
  3. Overall health, education and well-being statistics
    • To determine the degree of pressure on the company to provide access to basic services and/or infrastructure
  4. Behavior of law enforcement authorities
    • To determine whether law and order exist. What is the reputation of the groups that will provide security to the project?
  5. The level of democracy, presence and level of activity of civil society
    • To identify potential challenges related to corruption or mistrust of public officials
    • To identify local organizations that can help you understand the operating environment
  6. Social make-up of the region (indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, etc.)
    • To identify stakeholder groups and any history of conflict between them that you should be sensitive to
    • To locate indigenous peoples near the area of exploration
    • To verify if there is a history of displacement of indigenous people, particularly in the area of interest

Situation around the project area

(Google Earth,
  1. The distance between the project and local communities or towns
    • To establish population density, which could signal the potential for project impacts (e.g., dust, noise)
    • To establish population density, which could signal the potential for project impacts (e.g., dust, noise)
  2. Extent of road network
    • To identify potential traffic-related issues that could affect your ability to access your site and bring in equipment (e.g., drilling rigs)
  3. The type of housing construction
    • To determine the building type and construction material (e.g., corrugated iron roofs, cement block walls), which may indicate the level of wealth in the area
  4. Cultivation of land
    • To determine the size of land plots and type of agriculture (i.e., cash crops vs. subsistence farming), which can indicate the level of poverty and the complexity of land ownership and land-use rights
    • To verify the extent of forest use and whether forests are valuable community assets as sources of firewood, food, and medicine and have cultural significance ​
Areas with pre-existing mineral projects (internet search, contact other companies)
  1. General legacy of mining in the country
  2. Legacy of any existing project(s)
    To address the following:
    • Is mining covered often by the national/local media? Is there a noticeable positive or negative tone to the coverage?
    • Are there any other exploration projects or mines in the area?
    • Are there any outstanding legacy issues?
    • Are there any advocacy groups in the area?
    • Have there been any protests recently?

Step 2: Conduct a Company Briefing

Before you or anyone else goes to the project site, you should discuss how you will approach community engagement. In particular, arrange a briefing with your senior management team. This will help ensure you can effectively represent your company at the site level and will help you feel comfortable answering questions on the company’s behalf. During the briefing, ask for clarity on the following key areas:

Issues and Key Questions

What can you commit to on behalf of the company? What can you not? Examples:

  • How much information can you share about the exploration activities?
  • Can you commit to hiring only local people for non-skilled labor positions?
  • What is the timing on employment needs?
  • Can you commit to remediation of any drilling sites or environmental impacts?
  • Does your company implement any good practice guidelines, such as e3 Plus or the IFC Performance Standards?
  • What authority do you have to provide funding for community events or projects?
  • What is your mandate to engage with critics of the company?
  • Can you commit to proceeding only with the “consent” of the community (and if so, do you have a methodology for defining what this means)?
Key Messages

How does senior management want the company to be presented? Examples:

  • How do you describe the company?
  • Does the company have any corporate values or policies relating to sustainable development, environment, health and safety?
  • Does it have a position on, or approach to, securing the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous communities?
  • Has the company made a commitment to respect human rights?
  • How does the company describe its exploration activities, and the likelihood of the project advancing, so as not to create unrealistic expectations?
  • In cases of pre-existing sites, how can the company distinguish itself from previous operators?
Tools and Materials

What engagement-related materials are available?

  • Does the company have any posters or leaflets you can use for engagement purposes (see the Company Brochure box below)?
  • Are there any annual reports or publicly-available reports you can refer to?
  • Are there any engagement templates you can use to document and track your efforts?
  • Do you have copies of relevant permits and the laws and regulations that the company is required to comply with?

Company Brochure

Create a company brochure in the local language to present to people in the community. The brochure should have general information about the company, specific information about the planned exploration project, and contact information for you and for the company.

A company brochure demonstrates willingness to share information proactively, keeps the community informed, and opens the lines of communication. The information in the brochure can also be a starting point for dialogue between you and the community. Information could include:

  • A basic description or clear pictures that summarise the company’s proposed activities (recognizing communities often don’t know the difference between mineral exploration and mining)
  • The company logo so people will begin to recognize it and recognize employees

Your company may not be accustomed to developing speaking points, but it is important that field staff have at least with some information or materials to share with local stakeholders. One useful resource you can develop with input from senior management is a company brochure.

Step 3: Prepare For Your First Visit

Setting up meetings with high-level people or organizations before you arrive in-country will help you make the most of your first few days on the ground. These meetings are an opportunity to ask about other groups or institutions you should contact (likely, you will be referred to them during these sessions). The following are key people and organizations you should arrange to meet:

Who and Why​
Trade Commissioners at the closest Canadian embassy or consulate
A trade commissioner’s job is to help you on your journey, such as providing advice on how to engage with local stakeholders. You can find the closest trade commissioner at
Chamber of Mines or the Chamber of Commerce
Chamber staff can give you an overview of the experiences of other companies, of the local legal framework, and of relevant local legislation in relation to exploration, land rights and land title.
Other companies working in the country
The staff of other companies can share their knowledge and experiences of the project area. It is far easier to build on lessons learned from those who have gone before, than to go in cold.
Ministry of Natural Resources
Ministry staff can identify local laws and regulations that are relevant to your project and to the local community. They can also provide an overview of the successes and challenges of previous companies.
NGOs and community relations consultancies
These groups can provide you with an idea of the key issues that gain media attention or impact public opinion in the area. They can help you understand the community dynamics and may be familiar with the presence and priorities of relevant civil society groups and politicians. NGOs will also likely be aware of the presence of indigenous peoples.

Next Steps

What do you do in your first days and weeks at the project site?