Sixth extinction crisis of species, erosion of biodiversity, climate change, pollution... The planet is impacted by human activity. On May 6, 145 researchers published an assessment of the global biodiversity state indicating that about one million animal and plant species could be threatened with extinction in the coming decades, this number corresponding to the quarter of the total evaluated species. As a responsible mining actor, Eramet is committed to limit this erosion within its scope. Interview with Frédérique Desmoulins, HSE and CSR projects coordinator and Biodiversity expert at Eramet, takes stock of what is guiding the Group's biodiversity policy.
What perception of "biodiversity" do we have at Eramet? Our activity has a direct impact on biodiversity: deforestation, clearing, escape of local fauna in areas in operation... We often operate in sensitive areas, that is why biodiversity is systematically integrated into the Eramet model, especially for mining activities. A few years ago, the Group adopted a biodiversity policy and it is the definition of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an offshoot of the United Nations, which was taken as a reference: "Biodiversity is all living organisms and their interactions ". Biodiversity is thus a much larger concept than the simple collection of animal and plant species to which it is often reduced: human beings are therefore part of it, interactions between species and with their environment, as well as the benefits that Humans get from nature. The sustainability of the biological and genetic resources of living organisms and their living environments is an economic, social and ethical issue. Eramet has therefore placed biodiversity at the heart of the business of its mining sites. In its CSR roadmap, the Group is also committed to preserving water resources, accelerating the rehabilitation of its sites and fostering biodiversity, with a ratio of rehabilitated areas to cleared areas equal to or greater than 1 over the period 2019-2023 (Excluding long-term infrastructures).
Concretely, how do we integrate biodiversity into our activities? The first actions to preserve biodiversity began in the 1970s at SLN, in New Caledonia, with the first rehabilitation works. Over the past forty years, a real biodiversity competence has grown within the Group and is recognized in the territories where our colleagues actively participate in the works and reflections with other companies, scientists and local authorities on its daily preservation. As part of the development of our mining activities, as well as industrial activities, we seek systematically to take into account the environment. From the beginning of a project, baseline studies are conducted to gather as much information as possible about local biodiversity, with the help of international and local experts. The idea is to understand the environment in which the activity will be developed in order to implement an appropriate biodiversity strategy, with – depending on stakes - measures of impact avoidance, reduction, rehabilitation, and even compensation. We have made a lot of progress in this type of study as benefiting from our Development Projects in Indonesia, Senegal and Argentina. The Moanda mine extension project, in Gabon, is the most advanced example (for more information, read the article presenting the project here). The objective of this project is to have a positive impact: we are working on biodiversity "value" by rehabilitating surfaces equivalent to those that will be operated, but also by providing other actions generating biodiversity gains such as the fight against poaching, forest restoration or rehabilitation of endangered species in Lékédi Park.
How to strengthen the biodiversity culture in the Group? From 18 to 26 June, an internal symposium will be held between Gabon and Senegal. The rehabilitation managers of SLN, GCO and Comilog, as well as the corporate mining and biodiversity experts will come together to work on the objective of the CSR roadmap we were talking about above and which is focusing on the rehabilitation of mining sites. The mission will spend a lot of time in the field: the first week, it will settle in Moanda (Gabon) and will indeed visit the future Okouma operation site, the Bangombé mining site and the Lékédi Park; the second week will take place in Diogo (Senegal), with visits of rehabilitated sites and nurseries where revegetation actions are prepared. This will be an opportunity to set the actions to implement in order to achieve our goals but also to pool the best practices from each site.