Working in the midst of the community and in close collaboration with the local population, Rio Tinto is committed to discussing and reflecting on various future issues facing the region with the people who live there. To this end, in 2018, Rio Tinto created a unique platform for dialogue called Espace des bâtisseurs. Initially hosted on Facebook only, Espace des bâtisseurs can now also be accessed on espacedesbatisseurs.com, a sharing and interaction platform which was improved in August 2021 and serves as a public discussion and reflection forum for the people of Saguenay–Lac-St-Jean.
The local population has been building the aluminium industry generation after generation, one brick at a time. Partly because aluminium is in the region’s DNA, the industry today can proudly claim to have a solid foundation on which to build its future. This is why it is important to listen to the opinions and ideas of the local people.
The first project launched on the Espace des bâtisseurs web platform involved surveys designed to develop a vision for the years to come: technological innovations, the aluminium industry’s place in the world, training and research in the industry, etc.
“The goal of the process is to collectively reflect on various topics that are constantly in flux,” said Audrey-Claude Gaudreault, Interim Business Partner, Communities and Communications, Quebec Operations, Rio Tinto Aluminium. “When we launched Espace des bâtisseurs in 2018, the focus was on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Since then, we have delved into open innovation, the global aluminium market, the economic future of the Saguenay–Lac-St-Jean region and the aluminium industry, and now we are looking at the decarbonisation of the aluminium industry. Espace des bâtisseurs is a public and easy-to-use discussion platform. The comments and conversations that emerge are constructive, and we are seeing some great forward-looking debates.”
Espace des bâtisseurs facilitates discussions on various topics. Claudine Gagnon, General Manager, Communities and Communications, Rio Tinto Aluminium Atlantic, said, “The platform’s three goals are to connect, create, and share, because Rio Tinto wanted to capture the opinions, concerns, and expectations of the population. The platform is also intended to serve other purposes, such as spreading information on issues related to the aluminium industry in the region.”
The community is invited to participate in every consultation, generally by answering open-ended questions. Background information is also provided to open the discussion and familiarise people with the topic at hand. At the end of the consultation, a report is produced using the various responses, and a summary is disseminated to the population so that it can get a sense of the emerging shared vision.
The goal is to tackle three to four topics per year. The second consultation has now been running since late February and focuses on the decarbonisation and footprint of the aluminium industry.