As head of a major gold mining corporation, Charles Jeannes knows well the need for the host community to consent to and benefit from a business’s operations

Mining executives have a reputation for being no-nonsense folk. A long-time industry veteran, Goldcorp’s Charles Jeannes is no exception. “We have impacts, we dig holes in the ground,” says the Canadian gold producer’s chief executive.

He is unapologetic. All that digging provides 18,000 direct jobs, some 90% of which are held by people from the region where mining is based, as well as much-treasured wedding rings and the like. That’s not all. Vancouver-based Goldcorp calculates that its taxes, wages, royalties and other “community contributions”, including indirect ones, amounted to $1.3bn in 2013.

Does that go far enough, though? In the past, every mining executive would say “yes”. Many still would. Not Jeannes. He accepts that mining is becoming a balancing act. Along with the upsides come inevitable downsides – felt disproportionately by those living close to mine sites.

“We absolutely have to be able to show that there will be net benefits to the folks outside the fence at our sites,” he says. And if not? “We won't be given the right to proceed with our business.”

Fears over project curtailment are not without foundation. A lawyer by training, Jeannes understands the speed with which licences can be revised or revoked. In northern...

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