Tearing Down Silos between Companies
Ray Proulx, Community and Aboriginal Liaison for Teck, made a great speech at the coal forum. Here is an excerpt:
“I wanted to put a bit of a spin on the presentation and get past the usual: here’s our project, we dig coal out of the ground and we’re good folks. We should tear down the silos between us as companies, which I think is an important piece when looking at mining for the future. I have learned a lot during my tenure with Teck. It has been an interesting project, and it’s taking place at a very intense time for our region. There is a lot of opportunity and at times, it’s very overwhelming.
“Until a suitable replacement is found for the steelmaking process, coal is going to be around for a long time. There is a lot of it in the ground. If we are going to proceed in a manner considered to be successful by all involved, this includes companies, communities and partnering Nations, then we need to start breaking down silos between us.
“I’ve concentrated on two areas that I think need some attention. The first is the sharing and enhancement of best practices. There is an intense amount of innovation that is taking place in the coal industry; locally, regionally and globally. Specifically, in the realm of social and environmental management, we’re reaching beyond our traditional areas of science and engineering. That innovation tends to happen in pockets of isolation, because it’s held in someone’s own pocket, it’s not built upon. What happens after that is stagnation or misinformation that takes place.
“The thing about the coal industry is we collectively wear our failures. They do not happen in isolation and the first step to moving on is really establishing those global and regional venues for sharing best practices, and in non-traditional areas, such as community engagement. The goal for successful community engagement has been written many times over, yet there are still amateur mistakes being made every day.
“These amateur mistakes result in frustration, hard—feelings and wasted resources from communities and our partner First Nations. Companies in turn wear that, when the next company coming in speaks to a community or a Nation about their project. It’s important for us to get it right the first time, and continue to get it right.
“Teck’s aim is to ensure our presence is valued by communities, and that the values of the community define what the definition of success is. It would be great to transcend this objective in the regional industry to pursue in a co-operative fashion.
“I mention this, not because it’s not happening, but I think it is happening and we are starting to crack a dam in that respect. More and more will be coming down the pipe. One of the huge opportunities here is looking at issues that are larger than us individually. Some of these issues are lost opportunities, sometimes they’re the daunting tasks we avoid until we are forced to deal with them. It would be great if collectively, we handled them.
“We’re looking at things such as caribou recovery, workforce accommodation, recruitment, community marketing and strategic community investments. This is where you get past spotty drops in the bucket. Not to diminish the importance of small contributions here and there to various organizations, but we are talking about the purchasing power and pooling of resources to get something done. Suddenly, these projects in communities that are far away become very tangible and real.”