Rio Tinto at Simandou: Designing high-level biodiversity offsets to create net positive impacts

Client’s Vision

Rio Tinto’s vision is to set a global standard in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development by effectively integrating International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards 6 (PS6) into large-scale projects.

Rio Tinto aims to balance industrial growth, environmental stewardship, and community well-being through innovative, collaborative approaches with governments, private sectors, and local communities, ensuring long-term, sustainable benefits for all stakeholders involved.

Project purpose

Application of IFC Performance Standard 6

Performance Standard, 6 of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), involves assessing and managing environmental and social risks and impacts throughout a project's life, including preserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable natural resource management.

Rio Tinto's mission is to run and manage the project while ensuring minimal biodiversity impact and mitigating potential effects through a well-designed approach that aligns with the principles of PS6 at the mining site.

Our Role

Developing tailored, practical methods to apply International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 6 (PS6) to the extensive biodiversity data for the site, ensuring the social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) for the mine, rail, and port components fully complies with IFC PS6.

Key Deliverables

  • Assessment of the mine’s Critical Habitat at the Pre-Feasibility stage.
  • Development of effective methods to align with International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 6.
  • Crafting tailored high-level design of biodiversity offsets uniquely suited to the project's geographic area.

The Challenge 

The Simandou mountain ranges in Guinea are the native habitat of critically endangered western chimpanzees. Concerns persisted that the mining activities in the area could pose a significant risk to the habitat of the chimpanzees in the region. 

Our Approach

Early identification of risks  

During the Pre-Feasibility stage of the mine's development, our comprehensive Critical Habitat assessment was useful to identify and prioritise potential high biodiversity risks carefully. 

Identifying potential risks at an early stage allowed for the implementation of less complex and more cost-effective measures within the earlier steps within the mitigation hierarchy. This included actions like avoiding key areas for chimpanzees and minimising impacts on key areas of the forest through in-pit dumping. 

Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) 

In 2012, we worked with Environmental Resources Management (ERM) to ensure the social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) for all three project components (mine, rail and port) aligned with IFC PS6.

Crafting the high-level design of biodiversity offsets  

Identifying potential risks and gaining a thorough understanding of the critical habitat-qualifying biodiversity within the project area has been instrumental in designing comprehensive and effective plans to balance development impacts on biodiversity with conservation efforts.


The Biodiversity Consultancy carefully developed customised specific methods to effectively combine International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 6 (PS6) with the comprehensive biodiversity data available for the site. This ensured that the social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) for all parts of the project (mine, rail, and port) met the standards outlined in IFC PS6.