Early Phases of the ESIA
Terms of reference for the assessment were approved by the Ministry in charge of Environment in 2011 based on extensive consultations locally, with national authorities in Conakry, and with key international parties like UNESCO and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Intensive studies to characterise the baseline conditions were conducted between 2011 and 2013.
Recent and On-Going Work on the ESIA and Mine Design
From 2014 to 2019, the Project’s studies were largely on hold. SMFG used this period to collect data addressing key topics mainly related to biodiversity, including the World Heritage Site’s outstanding universal value. Engineering work focused on innovative design improvements to further reduce environmental and social impacts. By late 2019, at the time of the transfer of ownership to High Power Exploration, several datasets had become outdated, and local social and land-use conditions had changed. The new owners were keen to complete baseline studies. From late 2019 through March 2020, multiple field studies were undertaken to update and complete all relevant datasets, whose analysis and writing-up followed later in 2020 and into 2021. In parallel, technical studies related to designing the mine and all associated operations continued throughout 2020 and are still underway in 2021.
ESIA-Mine Design Interface
SMFG’s staff responsible for mine engineering and design and those responsible for the ESIA work side-by-side in the same offices and with a single design philosophy to ensure that all design decisions are made in consideration of potential impacts. Together, they select optimal ways to avoid or otherwise minimise negative impacts, and identify and maximise positive impacts. When a final design for the Project is selected, the impacts will be summarised in the ESIA report, and management plans will be prepared to manage predicted, residual impacts.