Mining & extractives projects

Rio Tinto Simandou, Guinea: IFC PS6 and SEIA development

A 2009 full assessment of Critical Habitat  for the Rio Tinto Iron Ore Simandou mine in Guinea set a global benchmark for quality and character of Critical Habitat assessments. We developed effective, practical, custom-built methods to apply International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 6 (PS6) to the comprehensive biodiversity dataset available for the site. In 2012, we worked with Environmental Resources Management (ERM) to ensure the social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) for all three project components (minerail and port) aligned with IFC PS6.

Our development of the mine’s Critical Habitat assessment at the Pre-Feasibility stage allowed the project to identify and prioritise high biodiversity risks. Early identification of risks facilitated greater use of simpler and more cost-effective earlier steps within the mitigation hierarchy, such as avoidance of key areas for chimpanzees and minimisation of impacts on key areas of forest through in-pit dumping. Understanding of Critical Habitat-qualifying biodiversity in the project area has also supported high-level design of biodiversity offsets.

Rio Tinto Simandou, Guinea: Pic de Fon Forêt Classée

The Biodiversity Consultancy led the development of the community-based management plan for the Pic de Fon Forêt Classée, a protected area in Guinea. The work was initiated by Rio Tinto to find a stakeholder-based solution to balance iron ore mining, chimpanzee conservation and local community forest use within the same forest. The result was a new law passed by the Minister of Environment of Guinea in 2010. The plan is a model for effective collaboration between government, the private sector and local communities.

This co-management model shares roles and responsibilities between partners to mitigate pressures on the forest. We advised on the strategic direction with Pic de Fon management partners for the development of the management plan and supported the community consultation process, which led to the creation of community forest management committees. We facilitated the definition of roles and responsibilities during several partner workshops. The protected area was divided into three zones to aid management: a fully protected area, a production area and a mining area. The main planned biodiversity management activities by the Pic de Fon Forêt Classée staff are bushfire management, reforestation, protection of headwaters from agriculture and other threats, control and monitoring by joint community and forest service teams of illegal activity, research, and specific actions for priority biodiversity features including endemic plants and amphibians. Communities are leading sustainable management activities, including hunting (by a hunters’ association), harvesting of non-timber forest products, agriculture and fishing.