MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Nov. 8, 2011) - 87% of Malartic residents have a good opinion of Osisko (TSX:OSK)(FRANKFURT:EWX), the Quebec-based mining company operating an open pit mine within the town limits. That is one of the conclusions from a poll conducted by the public opinion survey firm CROP from September 26 to October 12, 2011.
Six months after its Malartic gold mine went into production, Osisko decided to objectively gauge the project's level of acceptance among residents of Malartic and the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. The Company commissioned CROP to conduct an opinion poll in order to learn about residents' perceptions and concerns regarding Osisko and the mining industry in general.
CROP polled 1,101 Abitibi-Témiscamingue residents from September 26 to October 12. The maximum margin of error associated with this sample size is 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. For statistics specific to the town of Malartic, the maximum margin of error is 5.7%. The CROP report is available on Osisko's website: www.osisko.com.
The highlights of the poll are provided below.
Positive impact and popular support
According to the CROP report, "the mining industry in general has had an overall favourable impact on respondents living in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region". In fact, 95% of Abitibi-Témiscamingue residents estimate that the mining industry has had a very favourable or fairly favourable impact on their region. Furthermore:
- 87% of Malartic residents have a very good opinion (55%) or good opinion (32%) of Osisko.
- 81% of Malartic residents believe they now have better development prospects due to Osisko's presence in Malartic.
- 92% of Malartic residents believe that Osisko contributes greatly (75%) or adequately (17%) to the economy of Malartic. In particular, they point out the value of stable (86%) and well paid (87%) employment for Malartic residents, as well as the offers of work for local suppliers and subcontractors (80%).
- 89% of Malartic residents believe that Osisko has greatly (64%) or adequately (25%) contributed to Malartic's social and cultural life.
- 88% of Malartic residents believe that Osisko has greatly (68%) or adequately (20%) improved their community equipment and facilities.
"This poll objectively confirms what our daily encounters with Malartic citizens have been indicating", explained Osisko's Director of Communications, Hélène Thibault. "We have received solid support from Malartic residents, the vast majority of whom recognize our contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of their town. This poll reveals that only a minority of residents remain unconvinced and that we cannot expect complete consensus. But we will continue to take the necessary measures to rally the support of the majority."
Quality of life: impact mainly positive but some areas of concern
"Overall, Osisko has had a positive impact on the quality of life for citizens", states the CROP report.
- Overall, 67% of Malartic residents believe that Osisko's mine has had a positive impact on the quality of life of the town's citizens.
- Almost half of Malartic residents who feel the impact has been positive, cited the construction of new schools (30%) or new houses (18%) as the main reason for their opinion, whereas 32% cited Osisko's effect on the economy as their main reason. New infrastructure and equipment (roads, hospital, businesses, parks, playgrounds and other features) were also mentioned by a number of the polled Malartic residents.
- 21% of Malartic residents feel the mine has had a negative impact on their quality of life, mainly due to noise levels, dust, or a broader sense of pollution.
- The mine is not cause for concern for 64% of Malartic residents. On the other hand, 36% expressed one or more concerns mainly related to the environment, the eventual mine closure, health worries, and vibrations caused by blasting.
"The mine has only been operating for several months now, and we are still in the start-up stage", noted Hélène Thibault. "Our performance has been good thus far, but we will be looking to improve and reduce the real and perceived impact of our mining operations on the community."
Relocation generally well perceived
Developing the new mine required relocating a Malartic neighbourhood, which meant resettling about 20% of the town's population. CROP concluded that the resettlement "was generally well perceived by citizens".
- Three quarters of Abitibi-Témiscamingue residents believe the operation was carried out in a manner that was respectful of the relocated citizens. In Malartic, this percentage is 79%.
- 81% of Malartic residents are of the opinion that relocated citizens now have a better living environment than before. A quarter of those people (almost 20% of Malartic residents) based their opinion on their personal relocation experience. This represents virtually all the relocated residents.
- Only 5% of Malartic residents believe the relocation resulted in a lower quality of living environment for relocated residents, whereas 9% believe the new living environment is equivalent in terms of quality to what the relocated residents had in their old neighbourhood.
"The relocation was a complex operation, and as with all moves, it held its share of surprises and inconveniences", explained Hélène Thibault. "But now that it is over, this poll confirms that, with few exceptions, people are very satisfied with their new living environment."
According to the CROP report, Osisko's communication efforts were well received by citizens. "Osisko adequately listens, consults and informs."
- 82% of the polled Malartic residents are aware of Osisko's information campaigns, and 81% feel that Osisko is willing or very willing to listen to the people of Malartic; 72% feel that Osisko's level of public consultation in Malartic has been adequate or more than adequate.
- More than half of the Malartic residents even think that Osisko consults the general public more than other mining companies in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.
- 85% of the Malartic residents believe that Osisko keeps the town's population either well informed or very well informed.
"Communication with communities must be bilateral", reiterated Hélène Thibault. "Even though the majority of Malartic residents believe our level of consultation is better than that of other mining companies, we can always improve. Our performance may be good, but it apparently still falls short of expectations for a few of the town's residents."
Osisko and the environment
According to CROP, "Citizens are conscious of Osisko's efforts to respect the environment". More specifically:
- Even though 36% of the respondents believe underground mining is better for the environment than open pit mining, 81% of Malartic residents nonetheless think Osisko is putting a lot of effort or enough effort towards respecting the environment.
- Once again, dust and noise were the two main concerns for Malartic residents.
"We are extremely proud of the results of this poll", concluded Sean Roosen, President and CEO of Osisko Mining Corporation. "They confirm the high level of project acceptance in the Malartic community, which has been the most directly affected by the project. But it also reveals that we must continue to improve in some areas. It seems, for example, that meeting regulations and industry standards is not always enough to reassure the general public. Whether it happens through innovation or better communication, it is our responsibility to address the concerns and worries expressed in this poll. We are willing to do what it takes to reach this goal."
Osisko Mining Corporation operates the Canadian Malartic Gold Mine in Malartic, Quebec, and is pursuing exploration on a number of properties, including the Hammond Reef Gold Project in Northern Ontario. Osisko employs more than 700 individuals.