Moanda mine extension project: the biodiversity challenge

Okouma, the future mining site that will be run by Comilog, Eramet's subsidiary in Gabon, is both a manganese deposit and a plateau covered with savanna and forests. How can the conservation of biodiversity and economic performance be reconciled?

At the end of 2018, representatives from Eramet, Comilog, Sodepal (a subsidiary of Comilog that manages Lekedi Park) and the Golder and Biotope engineering offices met in Paris to discuss the biodiversity component of the Moanda mine expansion project. Experts in the fields of the environment, mining, engineering, ecology and even a primatologist have worked to adapt the shape of the future quarries; the full range of expertise has been deployed in order to understand the environment, using plans, topographic surveys, satellite photos, maps of the Okouma plateau and so forth. It is a major challenge to measure the future impact of mining on the environment and to make the best choices to reconcile industrial, economic and biodiversity outcomes.

The Eramet group is committed to meeting the global environmental and social standards of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank's institution focused on the private sector. The teams spent more than a year studying the original state of the Okouma site: its biodiversity, the physical environment (air, soil, water) and the societal dimension. They then assessed the project's impacts on its environment and decided on preventive measures. All this information was compiled in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report on the future mining project, which was presented to the project's stakeholders (Gabonese public authorities, local populations, and the International Finance Corporation) and approved on May 3 of this year by the Gabonese Ministry of the Environment.

Les Céphalophes à dos jaune : une des autres espèces, dont la présence est avérée dans la  forêt d’Okouma
Yellow-backed duikers: one of the many other species that are known to inhabit the Okouma forest

The presence of chimpanzees, panthers, gorillas, elephants and pangolins in the vicinity of the project has been rigorously documented in order to make the most respectful environmental choices and determine the boundaries of the quarry, the layout of the roads and the location of the future installations.

With the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, Eramet and Comilog are committed to a proactive approach to achieving the Group's vision in terms of CSR, i.e. “to be a civic-minded, socially committed and constructive company.” In addition to reducing or even eliminating its environmental impact where possible, Eramet is committed to a proactive approach when it comes to rehabilitation (revegetation of the site, reintroduction of local species) and compensation (restoration work on surrounding forests and Lekedi park).