Managing Social Impacts

Early and ongoing community engagement and meaningful dialogue form the foundation of our approach to better understanding the actual, potential, and perceived impacts of our activities on and building trust with host communities. We have adopted formal policies, procedures, and industry best practices to manage our impacts and contribute to the social and economic development of these communities. Each country and community in which we operate has a distinct culture and social context. While our management framework provides a consistent methodology for measuring and tracking social impacts and our corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance across our mines, it also offers the flexibility needed to tailor our approach to the particular circumstances of each operation.

2019 Performance Highlights

2019 Goals Social2019 Results2019 Performance2020 Goals
Achieve zero significant social conflicts at our operations through engagement, resolving grievances, and social auditingWe achieved zero significant social conflicts at our operations in 2019.*Achieve zero social conflicts at our operations through engagement, resolving grievances, and social auditing
Continue to expand our community engagement activities through greater participation in our corporate survey and more in-depth engagement in our CSR projectsWe increased COI participation in our annual survey from 645 in 2018 to 1146 in 2019.

Our Peruvian sites updated their baseline with participation of the communities.

With participation of the families in the mining camp, our team at San Vicente designed a program to improve hygiene, sanitation practices, and living conditions.
Continue to expand our community engagement activities through greater participation in our corporate survey and more in-depth engagement in our CSR projects

*Prior to our acquisition of Tahoe Resources, the Escobal’s operation’s mining license had been suspended pending the completion of an International Labour Organization (ILO) 169 consultation process mandated by the Constitutional Court of Guatemala. The mine is presently on care and maintenance pending the completion of the consultation. See Escobal for more information.

Our Sustainability Management Approach

Our Performance

Social Audits

We conduct social audits to help us monitor our social footprint and manage our performance. The audits are conducted by community team employees from across the Company. Our audit framework is based on the ISO 26000 guidance standard on social responsibility and incorporates content from:

  • Pan American Silver policy commitments
  • Industry standards and requirements
  • Towards Sustainability Mining (TSM) Aboriginal and Community Outreach Protocol
  • United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, 
  • UNICEF Canada’s Child Rights and Security Checklist 
  • Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights 

In 2019, we took steps to improve our social audit framework by expanding the scope of the audit content to include additional human rights best practices and standards, such as the Voluntary Principles for Security and Human Rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as well as the TSM Protocol on Community and Aboriginal Outreach, which covers aspects such as community engagement, stakeholder mapping, and response mechanisms. The framework was also reviewed by departments outside the sustainability function to make it more inclusive of issues encountered in everyday aspects of the business.


We completed social audits of our four Peruvian mines: Shahuindo, La Arena, Huaron, and Morococha during 2019. The primary findings included the need to improve conditions at camp facilities at the recently acquired Shahuindo and La Arena mines by increasing camp space, improving ventilation, and implementing additional hygiene practices in the kitchens. These issues are currently being addressed through changes in procedures and making additional investments in the facilities. In 2020, we plan to  conduct social audits at our operations in Bolivia, Argentina and Mexico.


(1) High Severity (A) applies to non-conformance audit findings that may have a critical impact on the Company’s reputation and/or a high economic impact.
(2) Moderate Severity (B) applies to non-conformance audit findings that may have a moderate impact on the Company’s reputation, and/or a potential economic impact.
(3) Low Severity (C) applies to non-conformance audit findings that have a low potential impact on the Company’s reputation.

Community engagement

The communities near each of our mines have distinct social and environmental contexts. It is important for us to engage in open dialogue early in the mining lifecycle and maintain this engagement through to mine closure. Engagement and dialogue also help us understand the priorities and concerns of host communities, which helps us manage community expectations as well as our actual and perceived impacts.

Baseline assessments are a foundational tool for our work, helping us understand the socio-economic realities of local communities. In recent years, we have been working to make our baseline assessments more participatory. Not only does this improve the ways in which we communicate and engage with host communities, but it also helps us better understand their needs and interests. With broader and better information, we can design or refine our community-focused programs to be more community specific and responsive.


Our response mechanisms provide a means through which community members can engage with our mining operations. Community members can submit questions, requests, concerns and/or grievances to us through a community mailbox or in person at our community offices. All requests or grievances are logged by the community office and a company employee is assigned to follow up. If that individual cannot respond to the request or resolve the grievance within 15 days, senior management is assigned to address the issue. Significant disputes are grievances that cannot be resolved jointly within a reasonable time frame, and/or that require significant financial resources to resolve. These disputes are escalated to site-level or country-level senior management to oversee the resolution process.  Community teams report progress and outcomes monthly to the Vice President of Social Sustainability, Inclusion and Diversity. The effectiveness of these mechanisms is evaluated through our social audit system.

Response mechanism process

In 2019, we received 295 requests or grievances and closed 207 of these. The majority of cases that remain open are either in progress or are requests for donations or socio-economic projects that are under review by site-level teams. The most common grievances received fell into the categories of human rights, land rights, environment, employees, health & safety, economic displacement, land & property, company initiatives, cultural heritage and others.


(1) Includes requests and grievances for operating mines only.

In 2019, we focused efforts on improving the alignment of our site-level response mechanisms with the UN Guiding Principles and TSM protocol requirements, formalizing our procedures and improving our metrics and tracking. This will improve our accountability and community responsiveness. It is our hope that these steps will, in turn, foster greater trust in and use of the system by community members.

Our annual stakeholder consultation in 2019 indicated the need for grievance systems not only in the communities, but also in the workplace. As many of our workers come from the local community, a workplace response mechanism will provide a second channel through which community members can communicate with us. We plan to pilot this response system at all of our mines during 2020.

Community disputes

From time to time disputes arise with our communities that are not managed through our response mechanism. In 2019 we worked to address three on-going disputes at La Colorada and Escobal.

As part of an expansion at La Colorada in 2015, we built new camp facilities and re-accommodated workers, as well as a group of families who were not workers but lived on our property in substandard housing. A small group of these remaining families filed a land rights claim in the Mexican Agrarian Court and also engaged the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico City (OHCHR). We have been proactively working with the OHCHR and the families affected to resolve the issues. In 2018, during a site visit the OHCHR identified areas of concern and opportunities for improvement from a human rights perspective. These included: improving water, electricity and facilities access, and changes to physical security infrastructure. Pan American Silver took immediate steps to address these issues and we continue to work towards a final resolution with the remaining families still living in the Company’s camp facilities.

Since 2017, protesters have blockaded various roads to our Escobal mine in Guatemala. The mine is currently on care and maintenance while the government of Guatemala conducts an International Labour Organization (ILO) 169 consultation process. Although the issues giving rise to the blockades predate our ownership of Escobal, we are engaging with community leaders, government agencies, and NGOs to develop a productive dialogue process aimed at resolving this protracted dispute and reaching a peaceful conclusion and community relationships.

gri indicators

413-1 Operations with local community engagement, impact assessments, and development programs.

MM6 Numbers and description of significant disputes relating to land use, customary rights of local communities, and indigenous people.

MM7 Grievance mechanisms used to resolve disputes related to use and customary rights of local communities and indigenous people.