Threats to the Environmental Integrity of the Nimba Mountains

Threats to the Environmental Integrity of the Nimba Mountains

Threats to the integrity of the Mount Nimba WHS have come from subsistence and sometimes commercial pressures from the surrounding population including hunting, agriculture, grazing, uncontrolled use of fire and tree-cutting, mineral exploration in the adjacent mining concession, refugee movements and, more recently, invasive exotic species like Chromolaena odorata. They pre-date SMFG’s arrival by many decades.

Potential Role of Mining in the Overall Protection of the Guinean Nimba Mountains

Starting in the early 1990s, parts of the conservation community working on Nimba concluded that subsistence pressures represented the chronic and most pervasive threat to the survival of the mountains’ extraordinary biodiversity.

This conclusion is eloquently described in JF Pascual’s (1994) La Pauvreté : Contrainte Majeure de la Gestion Rationnelle des Ressources Naturelle des Monts Nimba. The UNDP’s Nimba Mountains Biodiversity Conservation Programme, 2005 -14, was based on this premise, as is the Biosphere Reserve’s management plan, developed in 1991 and adopted as an annex to the decree of 2010.

SMFG’s environmental and social research since 2006 provides unprecedented insight into the biophysical and social environments of the Nimba Mountains.

As a result, SMFG has both collaborated extensively with the management agencies for the Mount Nimba WHS to increase its protection, and supported local development to draw subsistence pressures away from the SNR. Former hunters from surrounding villages are supported to undertake animal husbandry (pig-farming), too, for example.

In developing the Project, SMFG would not only minimise its footprint in the mining area, the company would contribute significantly to transforming the local economy through sustainable agriculture and careful spatial planning in the Buffer Zone, reducing subsistence pressures and drawing them away from sensitive areas like the Mount Nimba WHS.

Mine development could be a significant part of the solution to the long-term threats to the Mount Nimba WHS. The World Heritage Centre’s mission report from May 1993 starts to envisage this solution.

 

SMFG’s Response

SMFG’s Response

SMFG ensures that its activities will not be incompatible with the outstanding universal value of the adjacent Mount Nimba WHS and will not put its integrity at risk.

SMFG anticipates directly impacting less than 3.5 km² in the Mining Enclave of 15.2 km², less than 23%. The Project will directly impact less than 2% of the Guinean and Ivoirian Nimba Mountains, not even considering the Liberian Nimba Mountains.

The ore does not require fine grinding or wet or chemical processing, and will not generate tailings. All material mined is to be transported off the mountains on a conveyor mostly suspended high above the terrain by pylons, and/or by tunnel.

Trains will be loaded in the lowlands. The ore involves moving almost no waste rock, which can be stored in the lowlands in less than 2 km². The current mine design is limited to mining only above the water table. SMFG seeks to work with authorities and technical partners to strengthen conservation of the world heritage site and reverse its negative ecological trajectory, and promote sustainable agriculture and village-based land-use planning in the Buffer Zone to improve livelihoods and protect the strict nature reserves.