Approach, Goals and Standards

Because of their extraordinary biodiversity and of how they contain outstanding representation of on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution of ecosystems and species,, the Guinean and Ivoirian Nimba Mountains Strict Nature Reserves (SNRs) were inscribed as the Mount Nimba Natural World Heritage Site. In Guinea, the Guinean SNR is also a core area of the Nimba Mountains Biosphere Reserve. The Nimba mining concession is adjacent to the SNR.

Environmental Requirements for SMFG – National Law and IFC

SMFG complies strictly with Guinean legal requirements for strict nature reserves, as well as with all relevant Guinean environmental legislation concerning pollution, protection of fauna and flora, environmental and social impact assessment, and related topics. However, SMFG goes beyond compliance with national law and follows leading international standards, most importantly the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC’s) Performance Standards of 2012. In particular, IFC’s Performance Standard 6 on ‘Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources’ is relevant. This standard and its associated Guidance Notes of 2019 give specific, often quantitative, guidance to implement it.

IUCN’s and ICMM’s Guidance

Because of the SNR’s status as a natural world heritage site, SMFG benchmarks against IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment and IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Mining and Oil/Gas Projects. These provide instructions on the process of environmental impact assessment when pursuing an extractive project in proximity to a world heritage site.

Furthermore, SMFG commits to the International Council on Mining and Metal’s Position Statement on Protected Areas which states that future operations adjacent to World Heritage properties will not be incompatible with the outstanding universal value for which these properties are listed and do not put the integrity of these properties at risk.

SMFG’s Measures to Avoid and Minimise Impact

SMFG anticipates directly impacting less than 3.5 km2 of the Mining Enclave of 15.2 km², less than 23%. Combining the areas of the Mining Enclave and the WHS, the Project will directly impact less than 2% of the Nimba Mountains in Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, to say nothing of the Liberian Nimba Mountains. Within the Mining Enclave itself, SMFG has identified site-specific solutions to avoid or reduce impact to the biodiversity of the Mount Nimba WHS and inside the Mining Enclave. SMFG has rigorously and innovatively applied the impact mitigation hierarchy in all aspects of the Project’s design and will take additional measures to enhance broader biodiversity conservation.

Rehabilitation and Mine Closure

A detailed plan for on-going restoration and final closure will be prepared as the Project is designed. This will involve enhancing features of the Nimba Mountains critical to their key species and ecosystems.

Sustainable Development: the Key to Conservation

  • Threats

    SMFG’s Project is proposed in an area of extreme poverty where most of the population practices subsistence-style economic activities like slash-and-burn agriculture, hunting, grazing and tree-cutting for fuel and construction. Wildfires set by villagers frequently escape and burn the Mount Nimba WHS. In this context, with or without mining in an enclave at the northern end of the range, subsistence pressures represent the chronic and universal threats to the Nimba Mountains’ unique biodiversity.

  • The ESIA

    The Project’s ESIA looks broadly and deeply at not only the proposed mine’s direct impacts, but at its indirect impacts and the broader context. It characterises the region’s socio-economic and cultural contexts, and local people’s dependencies on and management of natural resources. It assesses potential impact ‘outside the fence’ at the landscape level from potential population influx.

  • Influx Management

    SMFG is therefore designing measures to discourage people from moving close to the Project in search of opportunities. For example, it will spread its workforce through shuttles and dispersed housing, move public relations, procurement and hiring to the company’s office in Lola City, and encourage alternative economic opportunities across Lola Prefecture.

Sustainable Livelihoods

Sustainable Livelihoods

Another key activity is SMFG’s support to sustainable livelihoods in the Buffer Zone around the Mount Nimba WHS so this area genuinely achieves the desired protective-buffer effect.