Human Rights: Talking with Communities about Drummond’s Environmental Management

After a meeting organized with communities during the first half of the year to talk specifically about the company’s policy for the promotion and respect of human rights, Drummond Ltd. held a second meeting with the same groups in the Departments of Cesar and Magdalena. The meetings discussed environmental management and advances in that area with leaders of communities located in the zones of influence of the mine and the port.

After the first meeting, human rights specialist Jose Unda analyzed the results. Unda is the manager of the company Ardura S.A.S. and has consulted Drummond Ltd. in the development of its human rights programs, including designing and leading training sessions with its different stakeholders.

Three important points were identified in this first stage as a result of the communities’ concerns: the company’s environmental management plan, social impacts, and the claims and complaints system. Based on this observation, new sessions were planned with the different departments, beginning with the topic of environmental management.

Some of the concerns expressed by the communities were related to air quality, the proper use of water resources, and coastal erosion, along with the actions taken by the company to mitigate impacts. In response to these concerns, the Environmental Department and the Community Relations Department at Drummond organized a tour of the operations to demonstrate the controls the company has in place for mitigating the environmental impacts of its operations.

The first group, in Cesar, made up of council members, secretaries, ombudsmen, and representatives of the community action boards of Agustin Codazzi, Becerril, La Jagua de Ibirico, Chiriguana and El Paso, had an opportunity to tour the Pribbenow Mine, and see the Paujil Dam and the forest species nursery.

“I have had the opportunity to see the process, and how the material is extracted. We have been in error. Mining isn’t bad as long as it’s done in accordance with the standards that are established by law. I can see that this company meets all the requirements. The impact is minimal,” commented Jorge Ovalle, ombudsman from the municipality of Agustin Codazzi.

In the case of Magdalena, the group was comprised of the presidents of the community action boards from the neighborhoods of Nancy Polo Rovira, Miramar, Girasoles, Barrio Abajo, and Brisas del Mar. Also present were representatives from Asojuntas, the municipality of Cienaga, the municipal ombudsman, and Afro descendent communities, in addition to members of the Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization -ARN- and a member of UNOPS. 

This second group toured the port operation located in Cienaga, Magdalena, where the visitors observed the system for unloading trains, the stockpiling yards, the water reservoir inhabited by diverse species of flora and fauna, and the direct ship loading dock.

Attorney for the Community Action Board of Cordobita, Manuel Urueta, said, “It was enriching to come to Drummond and clear up many of the doubts that have accumulated over the years regarding the company and how the activity might affect the people of Cienaga.”

After the tour, a talk was organized for each department about the actions included in Drummond’s effective environmental management, its management plan, and the controls required to mitigate, prevent, compensate, and correct environmental impacts identified, all in favor of a sustainable operation.

Emphasis was also made on air quality, forest product compensation, and proper management of water and solid wastes. The communities were informed about the studies and sampling done constantly by outside entities to verify that the environmental controls of companies like Drummond function and meet the standards required by law.

“Having a conversation like this has the purpose of improving the quality of the company’s measures for managing human rights risks. One of the human rights risks is environmental, because Colombians have the right to a healthy environment. It is a right enjoyed by everyone, so it’s important to make sure its management is the best possible,” stated Jose Unda.