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Resource exploitation oriented companies often face conflicts with the local community.
Li Wenxiang, professor of sociology at Jilin University, believes Eldorado Gold's practice in Baishan offers an inspiring way out, by involving universities.
Li says the cooperation will also act as a platform for universities to extend their fieldwork, test out their theories and train postgraduates.
His suggestion has met with positive responses.
Baishan acting general manager Hao Yusheng says the university plays an icebreaking role. "It represents a neutral force, and villagers tend to respect and believe in university students and teachers," Hao says.
"The parties involved also have a common interest - a stable and harmonious community," Hao says.
Chen Xin, a professor at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, opines that the university provides not only knowledge and technical support, but rationale and impartial cultural input.
Eldorado Gold China recently shared its experience having the university as a middle person, at the 2012 China Mining Conference in Tianjin, in which 400 mining companies participated from 57 countries and regions.
Eldorado's Gao Xilin says the company's mining sites in other provinces including Guizhou and Qinghai are also following Baishan's route in community management.
Meanwhile, Li says Jilin University is planning to set up a research center for risk management and social responsibility.
Li says sometimes the reasons for community conflicts are in the gray areas that are difficult to solve using legal means. "It's natural for a society in transformation to have problems and sometimes, it's difficult to determine who is responsible. That's why innovation in management is needed," Li adds.
(China Daily 01/31/2013 page20)