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Innovation through co-creation in contemporary mining relations: a new paradigm for stakeholder engagement at resource extraction project

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CC4M (Innovation through co-creation in contemporary mining relations: a new paradigm for stakeholder engagement at resource extraction project)

Reporting period: 2019-08-07 to 2020-08-06

This research explores the current practice and future potential of co-creation mechanisms at resource exploration and extraction projects. Co-creation is a term commonly used in business to refer to collaborative development of new value (concepts and solutions) together with stakeholders. In this context, it is used to describe a participatory process through which different groups (the company, host communities and governments) collaborative solve problems and cross-fertilize knowledge assets in the context of mineral exploration and extraction on indigenous lands. The project takes up the challenge of identifying, investigating and developing the potential for enhanced participatory mechanisms, leading to a more workable, responsive and respectful forms of stakeholder engagement. The aim of the project is to identify new spaces for industry innovation, and propose new solutions to stakeholder engagement at mining projects, contributing to successful agreement making and Sustainable Development outcomes for the projects’ host governments and communities. The research seeks to explore potential for a model of engagement which follows transformability of social forms and social innovation, ensuring that the agreement-making at mining projects is founded on actual stakeholder relations and obligations, within which local people are a crucial, internalised resource. The research engages with a wide spectrum of corporate, indigenous and state stakeholders at mining projects in Papua New Guinea (PNG). PNG has exerted an instructive and disproportionate influence on the mining industry - the industry's engagement with the notions of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility is often considered to be the direct consequence of the country’s experiences of 'irresponsible' mining projects such as Panguna mine on the island of Bougainville and Ok Tedi mine in the coutry's Star Mountains region. These experiences brought to the fore discussions about stakeholder roles and responsibilities in the resource extraction sector and forced the governments and mining companies to acknowledge local communities as powerful and significant stakeholders of resource extraction projects. The country’s influence on the ways in which the mining industry approaches and acts upon its responsibilities towards host countries and communities persists, making PNG a valuable and informative setting for this research project.
Three detailed ethnographic case studies have been completed for the project, involving site visits, residential periods in company camps and host communities, participant observation, interviews and focus groups with company personnel, members of project affected communities and representatives from different levels of state and regional governance. All participants were invited to give their own accounts of their relations, using their own terms and points of reference; to recount current stakeholder engagement practices; to consider how they are being used, and what could make those practices and, what follows, resource relations more sustainable and more effective. Each site participating in the project received a research report outlining main observations and preliminary research findings. Research data was analysed and triangulated to capture current practice and identify areas (and participants’ own ideas) for improvement and innovation with the aim of securing best sustainable development outcomes for the local hosts of mineral exploration and extraction projects.
Project results offer insights into what are complex and dynamic contexts and challenges, and propose workable and feasible solutions for enhanced and improved stakeholder engagement, using co-creation mechanisms. To that end, the project carries real potential to influence corporate and industry policies and actions, contributing to successful agreement making and Sustainable Development outcomes in resource relations.
Frieda River Project, Papua New Guinea