(Video: I am Barrick Pueblo Viejo)
Poverty is the hard reality for many people in the communities surrounding the Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic
Isidro Felix and Bladimir Morillo did not have high expectations when they heard Barrick had acquired a majority interest in the Pueblo Viejo mine. Felix, who is from the town of El Maricao, just three miles from Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic’s Sanchez Ramirez province, sums up the prevailing view in his community at the time.
“Barrick will come, bring people from other countries to work at the mine, and forget about us.”
Morillo, who hails from El Naranjo, just two miles from the mine, says his community had similar sentiments. Today, however, 11 years after Barrick acquired its interest in Pueblo Viejo and 5 years after the mine entered production, perceptions have changed.
“Well, the community was wrong,” Morillo says.
Barrick has not only remediated environmental damage done by the mine’s previous operator, it has built strong partnerships with local communities and lived up to its commitment to hire locally. Morillo and Felix are prime examples. Both went through Pueblo Viejo’s Rotational Employment Program and were subsequently hired as permanent, full-time employees. Morillo is an Inventory Control Technician and Felix is a Mine Facilities Technician.
“My life has taken an immense turn,” Felix says.
Difficult economic conditions
Poverty is the hard reality for many people in the communities surrounding Pueblo Viejo. The poverty rate in the 25 communities closest to the mine is 80 percent, with 15 percent living in extreme poverty. Most don’t complete high school because they leave to help support their families. Only six percent attend university.
“There aren’t many opportunities in this region and we knew from the start that providing employment and skills training would be critical elements of our sustainability program,” says Jose Tronilo, Community Relations Specialist at Pueblo Viejo.
The Rotational Employment Program was launched in 2008 during Pueblo Viejo’s construction phase. Its purpose was to provide temporary employment to unskilled workers from nearby communities. Participants are selected via lottery and new hires are trained in Barrick’s safety and operational standards. Since 2012, the program has achieved 4.51 million man hours worked without a lost-time incident. A lost time incident occurs when a worker suffers a work-related injury that results in being off work for one full shift or more.
When the program first launched, participants worked three-month rotations as general laborers or in environmental remediation. The program later lengthened rotations to four-months and, in some cases, six months, based on the needs of the mine and worker experience.
Morillo entered the program in 2009. He revegetated the slopes around Pueblo Viejo, which helps prevent erosion in this elevated, high-precipitation region. Felix entered the program in 2013 and also did environmental remediation work.
For the rest of this article: http://barrickbeyondborders.com/people/2017/08/local-hiring-program-changing-lives/