Newmont: Respecting Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Merian Mine 2022Human Rights, Assessmentdownload preview

Case study: Respecting the cultural intangible

Heritage at the Merian Mine

Global Center for Indigenous Community Relations

January 28, 2022

Respect for the customs and cultures of Indigenous communities is one of the guiding principles of the Newmont Global Center for Indigenous Community Relations. While respect for customs and cultures differs from community to community, Newmont strives to establish systems and practices to ensure Indigenous customs and ways of life are respected at all of our sites. . One of the ways we have applied this value is by putting in place measures to protect cultural heritage.

Newmont follows the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) definition of cultural heritage, which is the legacy of physical science artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or group. a society inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and granted for the benefit of future generations. Cultural heritage is the set of places, objects, knowledge and practices of cultural significance. More specifically, UNESCO defines intangible cultural heritage as transmitted from generation to generation and is constantly recreated by custodian communities in response to their environment. It provides a sense of identity and continuity and can manifest itself through: oral traditions and expressions, including language; spiritual and religious beliefs, ceremonies and practices; performing and visual arts; social practices and festive events; knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and crafts and traditional foods.

An example of intangible cultural heritage protection can be found at Newmont’s Merian mine in Suriname. Newmont is committed to partnering and working with the Pamaka community, of which approximately 1,200 community members live and work in the area where the Merian mine operates. The funeral ceremonies of the Pamaka community represent an important example of intangible cultural heritage. Funeral ceremonies are of great cultural significance, requiring broad community participation to strengthen and maintain family relationships. Ceremonies can last from two weeks to three months and are an important time when community members come together. Due to the high level of employment of members of the Pamaka community at the Merian mine, Newmont wanted to take steps to recognize this form of intangible cultural heritage and work with the community to ensure the value of the ceremony is protected. . Without addressing how to protect the cultural heritage of the burial ceremonies, many local staff were missing from the ceremonies due to on-site rotation procedures and no form of respect and/or participation was facilitated by the site.

In response to this, Newmont gathered information from the community to learn their expectations for burial ceremonies, developed a cultural support standard operating procedure, and incorporated these practices into the site. The Cultural Support Standard Operating Procedure encourages Newmont to demonstrate respect in a culturally appropriate manner and establishes practices to support Newmont’s participation. For example, the company will ensure that there is representation at burial ceremonies to show respect on behalf of Newmont and will provide mechanisms for specific employees to participate where appropriate. The establishment of protection procedures demonstrates Newmont’s respect for the intangible cultural heritage of Pamaka and respect for burial ceremonies.

Beyond the Merian Mine, Newmont has formulated a company-wide Cultural Heritage Standard that defines minimum requirements for the identification, protection and management of cultural heritage in Newmont’s areas of influence. to protect tangible and intangible cultural heritage values ​​and to prevent unauthorized or undesirable impacts by Newmont employees and contractors. The protection of cultural heritage is an essential step in respecting the customs and culture of indigenous communities and the protection of cultural heritage in Merian demonstrates how the integration of practices and policies aimed at respecting cultural heritage embeds these values ​​on our sites and within the company in general.


James C. Tibbs