Community Relations Capacity Building for Papua New Guinea’s Mineral Resources Authority: Outcomes of a Three Year Program

Between December 2014 and December 2017, The University of Queensland’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM) provided professional training and capacity building services to Papua New Guinea’s Mineral Resources Authority (MRA).

The purpose of this three-year program was to provide staff from the MRA’s Development Coordination Division (DCD) with leading practice community relations skills and knowledge that would enable them to more effectively perform their regulatory role. This role includes, among other things, ensuring that mineral developments comply with the laws of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and that the benefits from these projects are distributed transparently and fairly to project stakeholders.

Overview of the program

The training and capacity building program comprised two components:

  1. Postgraduate coursework qualifications in the Sustainable Minerals Institute’s (SMI) Postgraduate Certificate in Responsible Resource Development – Community Relations.
  2. Professional development through mentoring, short workshops and bespoke training on a range of topics.

CSRM staff provided program management, student mentoring, technical support, and the delivery of workshops and other training activities. The three-year program was a supported by budget of $532,000 (excluding university coursework fees).

1) Postgraduate coursework

Eight MRA DCD staff enrolled in the postgraduate certificate program which included the following subjects:

  • Community Aspects of Mineral Resource Development;
  • Community Development for the Mining Industry;
  • Community Engagement for the Mining Industry; and
  • Sustainable Management in the Resource Industry Context.

To account for the heavy work demands faced by DCD staff, and the amount of time they spend at remote mine sites with limited internet connectivity, two of these course units were facilitated in the form of week-long intensive workshops – one at UQ in Brisbane and the other in Port Moresby. This enabled DCD staff to complete the courses in a condensed timeframe whilst reducing the need for online access.

2) Professional development

Complementing the postgraduate coursework, CSRM also developed bespoke training activities and workshops customised to the operating context of the MRA. These workshops were open to all DCD staff and other divisions within the MRA, and were delivered in Port Moresby by the CSRM team.

In total, around 20 MRA staff benefited from one or more of the program’s components.

The table below provides a summary of the main training and capacity building activities undertaken during the program, in addition to the coursework studies.

Year

Training and capacity building activities

Year 1

In-country capacity building needs assessment, Port Moresby

Introduction to Tertiary Study workshop – delivered online from Brisbane and face-to-face in Port Moresby

Mineral Economic Assessment workshop – delivered in Port Moresby,  tailored to the PNG context

Ongoing academic tutorial support and program management

Year 2

Conflict in the Extractive Industries workshop – delivered in Port Moresby

Refresher workshop on Community Development in the Mining Industry – delivered in Port Moresby

Ongoing academic tutorial support and management

Year 3

In-country monitoring and evaluation activity – New Ireland Province

Refresher workshop on Community Engagement in the Mining Industry – delivered in Port Moresby

Social Impact Assessment workshop – delivered in Port Moresby

DCD Executive Manager enrolled in SMI’s Mining Leaders Program

Ongoing academic tutorial support and management

Outcomes and impact

Attainment of an industry-respected postgraduate qualification

One of the most significant outcomes of the three year program has been the graduation of DCD staff with academic qualifications from UQ. Of the eight staff who enrolled in the coursework program, six have obtained Postgraduate Certificates in Responsible Resource Development, with another due to graduate at the end of 2018. SMI’s Postgraduate Certificate is the only program of its kind in the world focusing specifically on community relations and sustainable development in the minerals sector and is widely acknowledged by the global mining industry.

Expertise in technical skill areas

DCD and other MRA staff have received bespoke training in key skills such as conflict resolution and social impact assessment, which has enhanced their capacity to address critical challenges in their roles. In some cases, this training extended to one-on-one mentoring delivered face-to-face or over distance. A mineral economic assessment course was also designed and delivered in Port Moresby to MRA management, and those with an economics background.

Knowledge and skills that match industry counterparts

A significant proportion of the DCD’s project coordinators have received the same training in core competencies as their PNG counterparts in industry, some of whom have also done the UQ/SMI postgraduate certificate. This is an important outcome for a number of reasons:

  • The government mining regulator and industry are better placed to develop a common language and understanding of the concepts and principles of community relations and best practice social performance in the mining industry; and
  • The knowledge and expertise obtained through this training directly supports the MRA’s efforts to work with communities and companies towards realising sustainable forms of development from PNG’s considerable mineral wealth.

Ability to apply knowledge in day-to-day activities

Some DCD staff are already applying new techniques in their engagement with companies and project area landowners, such as including women and young people in benefit-sharing negotiations. Others are developing strategic stakeholder engagement plans to be implemented at projects in the future that draw on best practice standards and guidelines, such as the International Finance Corporation’s stakeholder engagement guidance.

Finally, a monitoring and evaluation exercise conducted at a project site in December 2017 revealed that the DCD project coordinator had already begun to make improvements across many of the core competencies taught in the program, which ranged from ensuring inclusive engagement to facilitating people-centred development projects. 

Project members

Dr Paul Rogers

Research Fellow
SMI-CSRM