Communities

Human Rights

Why are human rights important?

Human rights are the foundation of sustainability. All companies have a responsibility to respect international human rights standards. This means not infringing on human rights and addressing adverse human rights impacts that they cause or contribute to, or that are directly linked to their operations, products or services. Largely due to the often remote location and nature of their operations, mining companies have a potential to impact human rights, particularly those of vulnerable populations or Indigenous peoples. Consequently, human rights have become increasingly important within the mining sector and industry groups such as the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), of which Pan American Silver is a member, have worked to align with global human rights objectives. The work we do affects the lives of the communities we engage with. It is paramount not only that we take steps to understand the linkages between impacts of our activities and human rights, but also that we progressively implement proper measures to manage these impacts appropriately.

Our Approach

Pan American Silver abides by applicable local human rights laws, is aligned with key international human rights conventions, and is actively working to apply industry best practices. Our focus is on upholding human rights, respecting the traditions and cultures of local communities. Our proactive identification and management of human rights risks and impacts is a component of our social management framework. 

Policy

  • Global Human Rights Policy
  • Supplier Code of Conduct (Supplier Code)
  • Global Code of Ethical Conduct

Programs and initiatives 

  • Training and capacity building
  • We trained Board members on human rights and our Global Human Rights Policy.
  • We provide community members with education and training on areas related to basic human rights.
  • Response mechanisms – Our site-level response mechanisms help us identify and respond to community concerns around perceived or actual impacts from our operations.

Monitoring and evaluation

  • Human resources procedures – We have procedures to screen for child and forced labour at our operations.
  • Social audits – Our assessments screen for risks to human rights from our operations. We regularly review our operations, our mining camp living conditions, labour provisions in certain contractor and subcontractor agreements, security contractor practices, and the effects of our social programs on vulnerable groups.
  • Community teams – Our site-based teams work with local professionals, including social workers, teachers and health practitioners, to identify potential human rights risks and concerns.
  • Security due diligence –  We have a process to monitor our relationship and interface with and support for public security. We review the interactions of armed private security contractors with public security entities.

Accountability

  • The Human Rights Officer reports to the General Counsel and oversees implementation of the Global Human Rights Policy and associated programs and practices.
  • The Compliance Officer oversees human rights due diligence in our supply chain.
  • The Director of Security implements our security framework, which is overseen by the Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability.
  • Security managers and supervisors oversee the administration of each operation’s contract with private security contractors.

Our Performance

In 2019, Pan American Silver adopted the Global Human Rights Policy that is based on the three pillars of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights(2) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Our policy aims to respond to expectations from and build trust with relevant COIs. This board-level policy consolidates our existing objectives in the areas of environment, labour, diversity and social responsibility as they relate to human rights. It formalizes our approach to fostering a positive human rights culture throughout our organization and working to prevent or mitigate any adverse human rights impact of our activities on our employees, communities and other external stakeholders. The Global Human Rights Policy also provides a basis for embedding the responsibility to respect human rights in all of our business functions. It stipulates our expectations of personnel as well as contractors, consultants, suppliers, and other business partners acting on behalf of or representing the Company.

We are committed to respecting international human rights conventions and best practices, including:

  • OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
  • Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM): Aboriginal and Community Outreach Protocol
  • Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM): Prevention of Child and Forced Labour Verification Protocol
  • United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Canada Child Rights and Security Checklist
  • United Nations Children’s Fund Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
  • United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights

We also created the new position of Human Rights Officer to oversee implementation of our Global Human Rights Policy. We launched the rollout of the policy at the Escobal mine in Guatemala and will continue to implement the policy at our other sites in 2020. As salient human rights issues differ at each of our operations, implementation will be carried out in a site-specific manner. We train management and community teams that, in turn, will develop tools and training appropriate to the operation’s context. As we move forward, we will use the policy as a tool to assess and improve our performance across our operations and take a more integrated approach to human rights.

Human Rights Analysis

Our on-going community engagement, social audit process, and response mechanisms are designed to help us identify actual and potential human rights risks resulting from our activities and take appropriate steps to manage and mitigate these risks.

Salient Human Rights for Pan American Silver

CategorySalient RightExamples of our management approach
Environment
  • Clean water and sanitation
  • Health
  • Air
  • Soil
  • Climate
  • Biodiversity
We have systems and processes in place to reduce our use of water and energy resources, use water and energy more efficiently, and avoid negative environmental impacts within and beyond our operating boundaries.
Labour
  • Equality
  • Non-discrimination
  • Peaceful assembly and association
  • Safe and healthy working conditions
Our Inclusion and Diversity Program is geared towards building safe, respectful, and inclusive work environments, free from discrimination.

We are piloting behaviour-based safety programs to improve the safety performance in our mines.

Most of our sites has collective agreements with one or more unions. We work in partnership with these unions to further the health and safety of our employees.

Socio-economic
  • Adequate standard of Living
  • Education
  • Equality
  • Health
  • Non-discrimination
  • Participation in cultural life
We invest in socio-economic development programs that provide lasting benefits to host communities.

We prioritize programs related to education, health, and local hiring and procurement opportunities, help create or sustain socio-economic projects designed to benefit local communities.

Security
  • Peaceful Assembly and Association
  • Life, liberty, personal security
We conducted an assessment of our security practices against the requirements of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and UNICEF Canada’s Child Rights and Security Checklist at two of our three operations with armed security forces and took steps to improve our security practices.

Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Through our acquisition of Tahoe Resources, we now operate three mines located near Indigenous communities – our two Timmins mines in Canada and our Escobal mine in Guatemala.

Indigenous peoples have both individual and collective rights. There are several national and international laws addressing the rights of indigenous peoples. One such instrument is the International Labour Organization Convention 169, which includes a mandate that government consult with Indigenous communities surrounding mining operations prior to granting mining rights, permits or approvals. This is currently the situation with our Escobal mine in Guatemala, where operations are suspended while the government of Guatemala completes an ILO 169 consultation process with local Indigenous communities.

Artisanal and small-scale miners

Artisanal or informal mining can be a key source of income for local communities. It can be associated with a number of negative impacts, including environmental degradation and unsafe working conditions. 118 groups of informal miners are active on land adjacent to our Shahuindo operation. These miners, represented by the Asociación de Mineral Artesanal San Blas (AMASBA), are in dialogue with the Peruvian government to formalize their operations. We are supporting this formalization process and are working with the government, local authorities and AMASBA to define the boundary of the land within which these miners will operate.

Human Rights in our Supply Chain

Our social audit process screens for human rights risks in the provisions in certain contractor and subcontractor agreements, as well as from contractor security practices. We also follow the guidelines set by the World Gold Council’s Conflict-Free Gold Standard, which helps us ensure that our actions do not contribute to violations of human rights. The new Supplier Code of Conduct provides an additional framework to help manage human rights risks in our supply chain. This code sets out the expectations for suppliers working with Pan American Silver, including the requirement for compliance with the Global Human Rights Policy and respect for the rights, cultural diversity and customs of local communities and Indigenous Peoples. We are in the process of implementing a due diligence software program to review and monitor supplier relationships.

Education and Capacity building

For Pan American Silver, an element of respecting human rights is helping community members to understand and exercise their individual rights. Our community teams conduct education and training for specific community groups such as women, youth, families, and vulnerable people. Over the past few years, we have provided training and education on various important topics, including:

  • Access to education and career opportunities
  • Domestic violence, addiction, and vulnerable groups
  • Gender equality
  • Parenting and healthy homes
  • Mother and child health
  • Hygiene and sanitation practices
  • Sexual health and reproductive rights
  • Discrimination and sexual harassment

Security and human rights

The priority for all security programs at Pan American Silver is to protect our people and our assets. We believe that making our sites more secure in turn makes local communities more secure. Our objective is to act in accordance with local laws while being mindful of international practices and principles, particularly with regard to the use of security. In 2019, we assessed the security risks around operations and projects and identified the following key risks: crime, potential violence associated with labour unrest, and civil unrest.

Training of security contractors

The majority of security at our sites is provided by private security contractors. These contractors have little interaction with community members, and in the event that they do, our dual priority is the safety of community members and respect for their rights as well as the security of our assets. Our goal is to limit the deployment of armed, private security only to those operations where and when it is deemed necessary and, at those locations, reducing access to weapons wherever possible.

In 2019, an independent third party conducted a gap assessment of our security practices against the requirements of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights³ and UNICEF Canada’s Child Rights and Security Checklist⁴ (Child Rights and Security Checklist) at two of our three operations with armed security forces: La Colorada in Mexico and Escobal in Guatemala. Based on the results, we expanded human rights training for security contractors to cover broader issues such as conflict management.

Before allowing their employees at our sites, we require that the companies supplying contract security personnel provide those personnel with human rights training that is in line with international best-practice standards. In 2019, 100 percent of Pan American Silver security employees and independent security contractors working at Escobal⁵ and La Colorada received human rights training.  The content of our Global Human Rights Policy will be included in these trainings as of 2020.

To better protect the rights and wellbeing of all Communities of Interest affected by a security incident, we are introducing a more robust emergency preparedness and crisis management structure to facilitate appropriate and effective management of a major incident.

Next Steps

  • Continue implementation of our Global Human Rights Policy and related programs.
  • Conduct assessments of our alignment with the Voluntary Principles and the Child Rights and Security Checklist at Shahuindo, La Arena and Dolores and roll out human rights training.
  • Continue implementing our security framework, including development of a consistent training approach for Pan American Silver security employees and private security contractors.

²The three pillars of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are: the State duty to protect human rights (Pillar I); the corporate responsibility to respect human rights (Pillar II); and access to remedy for victims of human rights abuses (Pillar III).
³The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights are the internationally recognized best practice for the use and conduct of security forces.
⁴UNICEF’s Child Rights and Security Checklist helps companies identify potential security-related impacts on children.
⁵Validation of training at the Escobal facility has been fully implemented with a pre-contract review of provider training programs, a monthly review of training conducted by the selected provider and a four monthly in-depth review of all private security standards requirements that includes a training review. This review and validation process will be introduced to our other facilities as the training program is rolled out.

overview

Material Topic: Human rights.

Sub-topic: Training of security personnel.

Definition: Respecting human rights and managing our potential impact on rights holders.

Feedback from COIs: NGOs and investors requested collaboration on and a visible demonstration of our commitment to human rights.

How we’re responding: We formalized our existing human rights commitments into a new human rights policy.

We conducted an assessment of our alignment with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights as well as the Child Rights and Security Checklist at two of our sites with armed security.

potential risks and impacts

  • Community opposition to mine operations or development resulting in project or legal proceedings, production delays, revocation of permits, and/or loss of social acceptance. 

related sdgs

gri indicators

407-1 Freedom of association and collective bargaining

408-1 Child labour

409-1 Forced or compulsory labour

410-1 Security personnel trained in human rights policies.

411-1 Incidents of violations involving rights of indigenous peoples.

MM5 Total number of operations taking place in or adjacent to Indigenous Peoples’ territories, and number and percentage of operations or sites where there are formal agreements with Indigenous Peoples’ communities.

MM6 Number and description of significant disputes relating to land use, customary rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.