As a company, we are cognisant of the fact that environmental protection cannot occur without socio-economic upliftment and the application of world class environmental operating standards and practices.
In the DRC, we operate in an area close to the Epulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering an area of some 13 726 km2.
The Epulu National Park forms part of the greater Ituri tropical rain Forest (62 900 km2), an area equivalent in size to Norway and is home to the Okapi, Leopard, Chimpanzee and is one of three places in Africa where rainforest elephants still roam in their natural habitat.
The Ituri Forest is also the habitat of the Efe Pygmies and their traditional forest neighbours, such as Lese, Ndaaka, Mbo, Karo.
Growing Bantu populations, regional security issues and artisanal gold mining is placing increasing pressure on the both the Epulu National Park and the Ituri Forest. Furthermore, local populations are increasingly living unsustainably in their associated ecosystems, with bush meat hunting; ivory poaching; artisanal mining and poor farming practices leading to uncontrolled deforestation and the loss of biodiversity.
We believe that controlled and well managed mining in combination with sustainable community development initiatives tailored to the indigenous Pygmy and Bantu populations, will deliver a higher income per capita than the current activities that have perpetuated a subsistence type living that is resulting in habitat and biodiversity destruction.
Non-Governmental and Government Organisations Active in our area include:
- Okapi Conservation Project (OCP);
- World Conservation Society (WCS);
- Cultural Survival;
- l’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature(ICCN); and
- UNESCO, Okapi Wild Life Reserve
We identify the environmental issues that need to be managed using a number of tools, including “environmental base line studies and impact assessments and ensure that any impact our operation(s) have, comply with in country regulations or IFC guidelines, whichever is the more stringent.
Importantly, we are aware that:
- regulations do change and that retrospectively trying to meet new legislation is often technical and financially more onerous, than designing systems to meet or exceed current international best practice; and
- communities need to be engaged with and buy into our vision. We as a company alone cannot hope to preserve the ecosystem in which we operate.
Any mine we develop, will be designed with the view of gaining ISO 14001 accreditation from the onset.