In 2014 began the adventure of Grande Côte Operations (Senegalese subsidiary of the Eramet group), then a brand new mineral sands mine in the heart of the dunes of the Grande Côte, Senegal. This was a technical challenge, with a mobile mine and concentration plant as well as a mineral separation plant; a human challenge, with the transfer of skills and the development of local know-how; and a societal challenge, with the rehabilitation of the dunes after the resource had been developed, the relocation of displaced villages and the management of water resources.
Eight years later, GCO is the 4th largest zircon producer in the world, generating 1,700 jobs and contributing 112 million euros to the Senegalese economy (2021 figures).
Specializing in mineral sands, GCO’s mine is by nature a mobile mine: it consists of a basin on which a dredge and a concentration plant operate, and it moves across the dunes as it mines.
The alteration of the landscape caused by these operations is not irreversible: GCO is proving this by revegetating the sand dunes in the wake of its mine. This commitment is included both in the contract between the company and the Senegalese government and in Eramet's CSR roadmap, through its 12th objective: “Preserve the water resource and accelerate the rehabilitation of our mining sites promoting biodiversity.”
Revegetation is also an opportunity to stimulate the development of the local economy: five local Economic Interest Groups (EIGs), bringing together approximately 200 people, are working with GCO on the entire revegetation process. The species replanted are chosen by the communities, mainly for their economic value (filao, cashew, eucalyptus).
The revegetation process at GCO. From left to right: the nursery where the seedlings are raised; a seedling replanted in the post-mining dunes; a revegetated plot of land several years after the end of mining activity, ready to be returned.
On September 8, 85 hectares of revegetated land were officially returned by GCO to the Senegalese Water and Forestry Department, in the presence of the Minister of Mines and his staff – a first for the country. By 2025, approximately 950 hectares will be gradually and continuously given back, in a condition equal to or better than the original state of the land.
The land restitution ceremony by GCO to the Senegalese Water and Forestry Department, in the presence of the General Management of GCO and the Executive Committee of Eramet.