Reduction of conflicts in the extractive industries using Good Neighbor Agreements
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Conflicts between mining companies and communities are now prevalent in many countries of the world, both developed and developing. These conflicts have often resulted in delays of mine project development as well as adverse effects to the communities. Reduction of those conflicts has been shown to be best accomplished by good communication, transparency, and a willingness of each of the parties to both understand the positions of other participants, but also a willingness to compromise. One of the types of agreements that have shown success is termed a “Good Neighbor Agreement” (GNA). The needs for this project are to create an open dialog between the mining company and all interested parties who may have concerns regarding the social or environmental impacts from the mine, to minimize the possible conflicts and disagreements, and create the negotiation tools, which can be implemented any time, depending on the needs. In this case, an agreement is negotiated where good communication and frequent meetings are utilized, and the resulting agreement has sufficient penalties that if any of the signatories to the agreement fail to abide by that agreement, those penalties will be imposed. This process is often complicated, but ultimately has the potential to reduce threats of appeals or legal action, but at the same time may require elimination of certain practices. It also requires a commitment to see this process through to the reclamation phase and long term stabilization of the environment and the economies of the affected communities.