ERAMET attaches great importance to the characterization and protection of biodiversity. From day one of development, this environmental component is taken into strong consideration when studying the feasibility of new industrial and mining projects. It is progressively and regularly taken into account in the operating processes of sites in operation or under rehabilitation.
THE SLN VOLUNTARY POLICY TO PROMOTE BIODIVERSITY
Société Le Nickel (SLN) exploits nickel deposits on various sites in New Caledonia, remarkable for its biodiversity and its native flora and fauna.
In 1993, SLN started re-vegetation work that treated more than 160 hectares by hydraulic seeding and traditional planting. Today, it still carries out important work to increase treated areas and improve their quality.
The company has always desired to undertsand biodiversity and the environmental contexts in which it is located, in order to better protect them and thus improve control of the risks associated with its activity. It has therefore put in place new actions to develop its scientific knowledge of the subject.
In 2009, the company initiated a vast inventory of existing data on biodiversity. Hence specialists and experts work on:
- herpetology (the study of reptiles);
- myrmecology (the study of ants);
- and also the marine environment.
When the inventory is complete, practical recommendations will be made and complementary actions will be proposed.
In 2011, the company set up five scientific partnerships in ecological engineering.
These partnerships involve the study of:
- the use of planted areas;
- the genetic diversity and the regeneration processes of a conifer in danger of extinction;
- the impacts of light pollution from mining massifs on a sea bird (the petrel);
- breeding techniques using in vitro culture;
- a project to plant species that are hyper-accumulators of metals on its old sites.
As part of this policy, SLN formalized a biodiversity strategy and set up a global blueprint, taking ecological issues into account in all its centers and extraction sites and developing an ecological copensation program.
The Integration of Biodiversity in Greenfield Projects
ERAMET integrates respect for biodiversity from the very beginning of its operations, from the feasibility studies of a Greenfield project, i.e. a new project built on virgin land and which is based on no prior construction.
From the outset, studies are conducted to characterize and evaluate the initial state of the environment.
Their aim: to define in depth the diversity of local and regional fauna and flora eco-systems in order to anticipate, prevent and reduce the impacts of future mining and industrial activities in the area throughout the project’s development. The Group then takes actions, adopting respected national and international structures.
Biodiversity is thus at the heart of responsible projects such as Weda Bay Nickel in Indonesia, which aims to exploit a very large deposit of nickel with no net loss of biodiversity, and the completely new Maboumine project in Gabon.
A responsible project: Weda Bay Nickel
The island of Halmahera is situated in a wet tropical zone in Indonesia. It is home to a mixture of flora and fauna from Asia and Australasia and a globally recognized coastal and marine biodiversity.
Characterization and evaluation studies on the initial condition of the environment are currently underway.
Specific actions are being undertaken to:
- study and assess the aquatic dimension;
- make a botanical inventory and assess its prevalence in the environment;
- manage and protect the forest and its remarkable bird species;
- fight against illicit forest clearing within the project zone.
- ensure the reproduction and healthy growth of local species;
- compare the growth of plants in relation to the quality of the soil;
- monitor the rehabilitation of the lower mountain area (re-planted in 2008 following mining tests);
- analyze the growth of plant species throughout the project.
TAKING BIODIVERSITY INTO ACCOUNT ON OTHER SITES
At Moanda in Gabon, COMILOG has started two rehabilitation programs:
- One is related to the Bangombé plateau, a mining site that is still far from the end of its life, in order to identify a geomorphology suitable for revegetation and to provide a field for experimentation. Since 2010, a great deal of reshaping has been involved and more than 120 ha. of land have been rehabilitated. Moreover, the mining procedure has been reviewed so as to integrate the reshaping stage and the recycling of topsoil as work progresses. A study of the rehabilitated zones’ fauna and flora is also underway.
- The other is related to the Moulili river, whose flow has been disrupted by the accumulation of manganese sediments caused by the mine’s washing plant operations in the past. Works started in 2010 and should be spread over a period of about fifteen years. At the end of them, 170 ha. of land will have been rehabilitated and reintegrated into valley’s landscape with the reconstruction of a stable ecosystem.
The many activities in the Lékédi Park
Situated in the province of Haut-Ogooué in the south-east of the Republic of Gabon, Lékédi Park covers 14,000 hectares (about 54 square miles) of savannah, gallery forest and artificial lakes. It is made up of three reserves and is home to fauna such as buffalo, mandrills, chimpanzees, gorillas, bushpigs, panthers and numerous antelope, as well as a species imported from Namibia: the impala.
Lékédi Park is dedicated to the preservation of protected species, the observation of animals and the hosting of young orphans (gorillas, mandrills, etc.). Eco-tourism has also developed there (camps, green classes, etc.), as have aquaculture (first producer in Gabon with 130 tons of tilapia a year) and local crafts (basketry and pottery).
The park works in collaboration with international organizations for the protection of the great apes of Gabon: the Aspinall foundation for gorillas and Jane Goodall International for chimpanzees. It has also hosted for several years a program to re-introduce mandrills into the wild. A partnership was signed with the CNRS to study this population, retrace their interaction networks and estimate the species’ social resilience in the face of environmental changes.
An agreement was also concluded with the International Center for Medical Research in Franceville (CIRMF) to promote research programs in the park.
Finally, the Lékédi Park fights against poaching and welcomes animals that have been seized by the authorities. In collaboration with the Ministry for Water and Forests, it participates alongside the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to increase awareness among local populations.