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For the second year, the Centre of Social Excellence (CSE) in Guinea brought together stakeholders of Guinea's mining sector for a symposium in Conakry on the social aspects of responsible mining production.
This year's symposium, held on 16 March 2023, was entitled "Mining and Local Communities". Guinea's bauxite sector has grown rapidly over the last decade, and at least a dozen mining companies are active in the Boké region. The symposium is part of CSE's collaboration with the sector to strengthen the capacity of companies, government institutions, local communities, civil society organisations and NGOs to address the severe risks that the mining boom presents for communities and the environment and to ensure the benefits of mining are shared.
The symposium created a forum for high-level discussions between sector stakeholders structured around project presentations by the participants in CSE's second course for Guinean social practitioners. The presentations culminated in a 10-month course on responsible mining management comprised of a four-month classroom phase in Yaoundé, Cameroon and a six-month practical phase focused on research projects in the Boké region. This course – made possible with support from the Alcoa Foundation – trained twenty early-career Guineans from private companies, civil society organisations, public institutions, and several local communities directly affected by mining operations in the Boké region.
How can mining companies improve their relationships with local communities and reduce negative impacts?
The CSE participants addressed this question in their presentations on the findings and recommendations of their four group projects:
- Analysis of the management of financial compensation and its impacts in communities affected by bauxite mining in the Boke region.
- Analysis of different methods of soil fertilisation after mining. Organic fertilisation of the soil: The case of the market garden sites in Hamdallaye village was retroceded by the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG).
- Achievements and weaknesses of CBG's support programme for income-generating activities: The case of the rural municipalities of Sangarédi and Kamsar 2017-2021;
- Mitigation of the impacts of the Dapilon mineral port (of the SMB-led consortium) on the communities of Kolaboui.
The symposium attendees reviewed the progress and shortcomings of efforts to address community impacts. They considered different short and long-term approaches that could be taken for further improvement. Kounsa Bailo, speaking on behalf of the communities, declared, “We should stop considering communities as beneficiaries only, but rather we should see them as key actors who are indispensable in the decision-making bodies where they can share our vision of development. In my opinion, this training should not only concern field workers but also top management who can easily influence the vision and decisions of companies and the state.”
With the continuing support of the Alcoa Foundation, the CSE will convene its third 10-month course for Guinean social practitioners, and this time it will take place entirely in Boké - Guinea, at the new CSE Guinea campus.
A new call for applications for the course is open until 30 April, and the classroom session will commence in early July.