Managing our community impact up front
On the coast of Senegal, the world's largest mining dredger operates in an artificial basin, located on a 106-km strip of dunes. Every year, our subsidiary processes some 50 million tons of sand from this basin. A team of employees works to isolate various titanium minerals from the mountain of heavy minerals extracted: zircon, ilmenite, rutile, and leucoxene.
Given the itinerant nature of GCO's operations, neighboring communities are mainly impacted by population displacement and the loss of access to agricultural and pastoral lands.
As such, the community relations team helped resettle nearly 920 people from the villages of Diogo and Foth in 2016 and 2019. This initiative was led by the Resettlement Committee, which is chaired by the prefect and by representatives of the persons affected. The communities themselves were closely involved in deciding how the process would be carried out (selecting the site, setting up the new village, assembling the housing and shared infrastructures, etc.). Substitute agricultural land was provided to the villagers, and a cattle route was set up near the villages.
In these new villages, families have at least three rooms in their homes, with access to water and solar lighting. Each village has a school, a mosque, a water tower, and a system for managing household waste. According to an audit performed in 2014 and consultations held in 2016, the communities reported being generally satisfied with the resettlement process.
Everyone whose land was affected received our help to get back on their feet and improve their ability to earn a living. This effort was made possible in part by:
- an assortment of Economic Interest Groups (EIGs), which received training in management strategies and agricultural techniques.
- Mutuelle de Services Communautaires, which provides low-interest loans to purchase agricultural inputs.
Complaint management mechanism
Local communities have several ways to reach us:
- By directly contacting GCO at the office of the community relations department in their housing camp, via our local representatives in the villages, or by telephone.
- Via the Monitoring and Alert Committee established by the prefect.
GCO is in constant and continual contact with the local communities via its numerous field agents and local representatives, who are intimately familiar with the local social landscape.
Dialogue is also maintained through permanent, multiparty committees, each one dedicated to a specific topic of local interest (the Resettlement Committee, the Local Jobs Committee, the Community Program Identification Committees, etc.). All of these committees include community representatives, a government representative, representatives of elected officials, and GCO representatives. They ensure that information is shared equally with the various stakeholders, and that the communities and their representatives are involved in making decisions on these subjects.
Contributing to community development
Eramet actively contributes to the region's economy by creating jobs and buying local products. GCO sends all job postings to the Local Jobs Pre-Selection Committee, which then provides a list of local candidates to be examined by GCO according to a transparent procedure. In addition, GCO has helped to create and train around 10 local Economic Interest Groups that now provide services to the company (e.g. environmental rehabilitation services). Contracts have also been signed with local companies, including a procurement contract for fruits and vegetables produced by local communities for the Diogo housing camp.
As one of our top priorities, educational assistance has been subject to numerous initiatives under the Mining Social Program, including:
- a project to build and outfit the Case des Tout-Petits association in Diogo, which provides fun and educational activities to more than 60 children every year
- a project to build and outfit six classrooms, administrative offices, and a multi-purpose playing field at Ndjiligne Middle School
- a project to build and outfit two new primary schools in Ngouye Bèye and Thiare
Likewise, GCO has actively worked to improve access to health by donating an ambulance, beds, and medical equipment and supplying potable water.
- 345,000 euros: that is how much GCO has pledged to the Mining Social Program and its giving initiatives in 2019, as established in the mining agreement between GCO and the government of Senegal.