"Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely." This observation, issued by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), unfortunately sums up all of the latest studies on the subject.
The Eramet group is fully aware of the state of emergency the planet finds itself in. It is therefore striving every day to ensure that it views the longevity of plant and animal species and their habitats as a business, social and ethical issue.
As part of its CSR roadmap, which dates from 2018, Eramet has committed to protecting water resources and accelerating the restoration of sites by fostering biodiversity. Earlier, in 2014, the Group adopted a Biodiversity Policy that forms part of a continuous improvement approach, aligned with its Sustainable Development Policy and its Environment and Ethics charters. The policy is based on three cornerstones: characterizing the biodiversity of sites, launching and monitoring concrete actions in the field and providing universal education on the subject.
In 2021, Eramet has joined the act4nature international initiative for the preservation of biodiversity and had its commitments recognized as SMART by environmental NGOs and scientific bodies. The Group is thus committed to integrating biodiversity preservation objectives into its corporate strategy as part of its activities.
- 12th objective of the Eramet CSR roadmap: restore more surface area than the group will impact over the 2019-2023 period.
Enhancing knowledge and understanding of biodiversity
Respect for biodiversity is therefore fully incorporated into the activity of each of the Group's mining and industrial sites. Characterization studies are regularly conducted to collect as much information as possible about local biodiversity, as well as usages and eco-systemic services. These studies were entrusted to national and international specialists and experts, including specialized firms, public institutes, universities and NGOs. The risks and impacts of activities on biodiversity are studied and preservation actions are defined accordingly.
In New Caledonia for example, wildlife (reptiles, birds, bats), the marine environment and the quality of the water in mining creeks are painstakingly monitored. SLN's teams are also working on reintroducing rare and endangered plant species via surveys at the mining centers and phenological monitoring with the aim of controlling their reproduction more effectively. Under a partnership with the Institut Agronomique néo-Calédonien, SLN produces production sheets that are made available to vegetation growers.
In Senegal, for example, mining areas are subject to an internal environmental permit, which must be applied for with one month's notice. Specialized teams then complete biodiversity inspections including a flora inventory, and identification and transfer of vulnerable, protected or endemic species. Wildlife species that are not very mobile, including snakes, are recovered from the site to be released in the areas being rehabilitated or given to the Hann Zoological Park with the collaboration of the Water and Forests Department. Since 2013, 1,037 snakes have been transferred.
Rehabilitate gradually and revegetate with endemic species to rebuild conditions conducive to the recovery of biodiversity. The Group was one of the first mining companies to develop land stabilization and revegetation practices through planting or hydroseeding. In New Caledonia, the first tests began in the 1970s.
Taking action to protect biodiversity
When a project is launched, a whole host of preparatory work is carried out to implement a suitable strategy. This routinely follows the sequence below:
- avoid negative impacts on biodiversity
- lower the impact to reduce its duration, intensity and extent
- restore sites, notably by fostering the reintroduction of endemic species
- offset the significant residual impacts
In Gabon, the Lékédi park, a subsidiary of Comilog, works for the preservation of protected species and the reintroduction of megafauna such as the wild mandrill through the Mandrillus Project. Since 2013, it has also partnered with the Haut-Ogooué Province Regional Directorate of Water and Forests to conduct awareness-raising and anti-poaching activities. Since 2020, the Lékédi Biodiversity Foundation, jointly created by Comilog (Gabonese subsidiary of the Group) and Eramet, have provided the park with additional resources to preserve Gabon's biodiversity, rehabilitate orphan primates and develop scientific research through new partnerships.
Education on biodiversity
A great deal of background work is carried out alongside this to strengthen the biodiversity culture within the Eramet group. Employees and subcontractors are trained in biodiversity conservation issues, and working groups are organized on the subject, including experience sharing processes and the introduction of common management rules.
These efforts don't end within the company. Actions to foster biodiversity are incorporated into the Group's environmental reporting and are highlighted in the periodic publications issued to all stakeholders.
Eramet also contributes to the process of reflection on improving biodiversity knowledge and conservation as part of national and international bodies. For example, in 2011 the Group became an active member of the Business and Biodiversity Offset Program (BBOP), a think tank specializing in solutions to offset environmental damage. Since the end of the mission, all the documentation produced, in which Eramet participated, has been hosted by the NGO Forest Trends.