Gathering Marks First Batch of Guinean Graduates from Earthworm's Centre of Social Excellence
Key actors from the Guinean government, mining companies, civil society, and local communities affected by mining operations attended a symposium organised by the Centre of Social Excellence (CSE) on December 8, 2021 in Conakry, Guinea. This event marked the graduation of the first class of social practitioners from the CSE in Guinea and offered a platform to discuss responsible mining in the country.
The symposium, titled “Social Aspects of Responsible Mining in Guinea,” was organised to celebrate the first round of CSE graduates in the country, share results from trainee field projects, and promote participation in a second course in 2022. It included speeches and a panel discussion of leaders representing mining sector stakeholders on the stakes and perspectives of socially responsible mining. Discussions emphasised advancing a vision for improving mining activities in Guinea, especially in the important bauxite mining region of Boké.
Participants were engaged on the topics, and many expressed support for the CSE Guinea training program and further investment in social management in the mining sector, said Erith Ngatchou, Earthworm Foundation's Regional Lead.
"This first class of social practitioners is a new batch of actors in the Guinean mining ecosystem who will work to fertilise this environment with a proactive approach to promoting participatory dialogue and mutually beneficial partnership for the different actors," Ngatchou said.
The symposium served as a platform to discuss the importance of respecting local communities and strengthening development opportunities linked to mining. Ismael Diakité, President of the Chamber of Mines of Guinea remarked that, “building and maintaining stable relationships with local communities is the basis of our social license to operate, which is essential.”
The event, which followed protocols to protect against COVID-19 transmission, provided a unique opportunity for stakeholders with differing views to come together. Frank discussions were held on how to leverage research by CSE trainees to improve mining operations and increase development benefits for affected local communities.
The attendees at the symposium included:
- Marchal Christiane Morgan, Director of Mining Projects at the Guinean Ministry of Mines;
- Ismael Diakité, President of the Chamber of Mines; and
- Chaïkou Yaya Diallo, Executive Director of the Chamber of Mines.
Representatives of the mining sector included:
- Vidar Bruland, Vice President of Joint Ventures, Alcoa;
- Marc Piche, General Administrator of Alcoa;
- Souleymane Traoré, General Director of the Guinea Bauxite Company (Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée or CBG);
- Jason Peirce, Deputy Director of Alufer; and
- Salimatou Diallo, Project Control Manager of Guinea Alumina Corporation (GAC).
Local communities were represented by the Vice Mayor of Sangarédi, a local council member from a community directly affected by mining activities. The civil society sector was represented by Mamadou Lamarana Diallo of Action Mines Guinée. The symposium was also attended by His Excellence Cristian Font Calderon, the Ambassador of Spain, and Caroline Corcoran, Economic and Commercial Attaché at the Embassy of the United States in Guinea.
The 2021 CSE Guinea training course and symposium were funded by the Alcoa Foundation. Continued support from the foundation will allow CSE Guinea to build on its initial success and offer a second 10-month ‘long course’ for social practitioners in 2022. Like the 2021 programme, the 2022 course is open to all Guineans and seeks to have balanced participation from all sectors involved in mining, including government, private sector, communities in the Boké region, and civil society. In parallel, CSE Guinea will also offer a special two-week capacity building course for communities in the Boké region.