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.
Information on the risks to the safety of local residents is also presented as part of the dialog with communities. In 2020, for example, GCO raised awareness among more than 1,000 people in the village of Foth and its 14 hamlets on the road safety risks linked to the traffic lanes used by GCO operators and the population
Contributing to community development
As part of its mining agreement, GCO has established a social mining program with the Senegalese government, which commits the company to making annual investments to benefit neighboring communities. The actions to be implemented within this framework are defined in consultation with all the local stakeholders in a tripartite committee. This committee, which includes mayors and representatives of GCO, local populations and civil society, is responsible for allocating the funds for the actions to be carried out.
A system of rotating allocations has been established, allowing for a concentration of funds per municipality each year, and therefore more substantial investments. In 2020, health restrictions did not allow for the completion of all the planned actions, which will therefore continue in 2021. The main achievements of GCO are as follows:
- In the field of education: GCO rehabilitated or built 20 classrooms and an information room in the schools of Mékhé, Mbettète and Diogo.
- In terms of infrastructure, GCO financed the earthworks of the bus station in Diogo and the equipment of the borehole in the village of Darou Beye.
- To support development and economic diversification, GCO has renewed its financial support for the community mutual society offering low-interest loans to more than 160 farmers in the Diogo area. Training in household waste recycling was also offered to women from an economic interest group in the village of Foth. Part of the production is then purchased by GCO for mine rehabilitation work.
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.
Rehabilitating a mining site
The GCO mine operates in a unique way: the dredge sucks up sand and moves along the deposit, which involves clearing the vegetation. What happens after the mine has passed? GCO’s answer is simple: to leave no trace, by returning the site to a state as close as possible to the pre-mining situation – or even better, with added ecological and economic value.
- To learn more about the rehabilitation of GCO’s sites, click here