Biodiversity management system for a mine in West Africa

Summary

EEM was retained by a mining company considering an expansion project to develop a biodiversity management system. The aim of the BMS was to define and minimize the risk of biodiversity loss, to implement actions to sustain no net loss, and to ensure effective and independent monitoring. This called for the involvement of all stakeholders and the facilitation of consultation opportunities and events with local populations and organizations.

Approach and Solution

The BMS was produced by the team that contributed to the company’s environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) related to the increase of production at the mine. This team consisted of local and international consultants specialized in biological surveys, livelihood and habitat restoration, and data management.

The BMS complemented the ESIA by focusing two distinct biological environments: 1) the mine area (dense network of watercourses and associated valleys); and 2) the port and plant (mangroves and tidal inlets). Several areas were identified as being of high importance in terms of biodiversity, including a compilation of protected and internationally recognized areas, and included many vulnerable species.

To meet its biodiversity goals, our client was committed to managing the related risks effectively and called on EEM’s support for six months. The work was guided by international conventions and treaties, national biodiversity strategies and action plans, legislation, financial requirements, and industry guidelines. Issues related to biodiversity conservation were assessed and a strategy for addressing those issues was adopted. EEM proposed methods to implement biodiversity conservation actions, a list of action items in tabular format, a description of the monitoring framework, and a net impact forecast.

Results

As a result of the analysis, most of the Impacts on biodiversity were reduced by applying avoidance and mitigation measures.  For example, direct impacts to the gallery forest, watercourses and headwater springs have been avoided through modifications of the mine plan and mine haul roads. However, the studies suggested that serious and unmitigable impacts still remained. In this case, compensation offsets at other locations may have to be considered.

An initial evaluation suggested that net positive impact should be achievable. An update of the BMS is expected by June 30, 2017 once the results of the final offset study become available.  These will include a comprehensive field survey, various impact management plans and a more detailed impact forecast.

EEM collaborated with the financial lenders to ensure the BMS met the applicable international standards.

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