MARQUETTE - Rio Tinto officials recently released the results of the company's Community Scorecard efforts, conducted over a series of meetings this past fall and designed to gauge how well the mining company is meeting its goals in the eyes of local residents.
The aggregate data from five initial community forums held in September in Big Bay, Michigamme, Champion, Marquette and L'Anse and subsequent sessions held with Rio Tinto selected groups in Ishpeming and Marquette in October, indicated the company is meeting or exceeding expectations in all five survey areas.
"We've developed the Community Scorecard to share our progress in areas that are most important to the community and for the community to score our performance," said Daniel Blondeau, Rio Tinto communications and media relations advisor, in Humboldt. "The scorecard gives everyone an equal voice in five key performance areas: environmental performance, local hire, safety, transparency and communication and leave more wood on the woodpile (leaving the area better than when the company arrived)."
Aggregate survey results reported from a series of forums held last fall by Rio Tinto, gauging the company’s performance as viewed by the community. A total of 293 individuals were surveyed. New surveys will be conducted in April and May and every six months afterward.
Those survey areas were selected as important concerns by the community in previous contacts with the mining company over the past several months. Using electronic devices, attendees at the five public forums and events hosted by the Lake Superior Community Partnership, Ishpeming-Negaunee Chamber of Commerce and Marquette Noon Rotary, were able to vote in real time on whether Rio Tinto has met, exceeded or measured below expectations in the five key areas.
Every six months, the company plans to record additional votes with the same groups. The next round of surveys is expected in April and May. Mining company workers or contractors were not permitted to participate in the surveys.
"Eagle Mine's Community Scorecard has received overwhelming interest from the community," Blondeau said. "We were humbled by the community's eagerness to participate in the community forums and to provide their feedback on our performance."
The two-hour forums also included updates on progress at the Eagle Mine and Humboldt Mill and questions were answered on a wide range of subjects. In addition to logging and reporting survey responses, Rio Tinto solicited feedback from attendees, which has been incorporated into the results information reported on the mining company's website.
Blondeau said among the most significant comments, attendees asked for more information on Rio Tinto's environmental performance.
"We have responded by updating our website to include more information about our performance and we've made reports and data easier to locate," Blondeau said. "We will include a link on our website to the Community Environmental Monitoring Program website for access to Superior Watershed Partnership reporting and analysis."
Blondeau said the community also said it wanted Rio Tinto to report on any problems at the mine or mill which might pose a serious risk to safety or the environment.
In the aggregate results, the measures for exceeding expectations were 37 percent for environmental protection, 18 percent for local hire, 42 percent for safety, 38 percent for transparency and communication and 22 percent for improving conditions.
Rio Tinto declined a Mining Journal request to provide individual results from each of the survey sessions. We intended to publish those results individually and make side-by-side comparisons.
"During the forums, we told the community we would aggregate the scorecard data that was collected and report the results," Blondeau said. "For The Mining Journal to report different data would be contradictory to how we told the community we would share the data."
To view the Community Scorecard results, visit: riotintoeagle.com/approach/community/community-scorecard.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is jpepin@miningjournal. net