AngloGold Ashanti has had a community engagement forum in place at its Sadiola and Yatela mines in Mali since 2003. More than 200 people attend the annual forum meeting, and vigorous discussion and debate take place on a broad range of issues. With significant community interest in the upcoming closure of Yatela mine, the forum has provided a structure for discussing the closure and allowing AngloGold Ashanti to obtain feedback from the community on how to manage the closure process.
Sadiola and Yatela Gold Mines are adjacent to each other in the south-west of Mali, near the border with Senegal and share a stakeholder forum. The forum is highly inclusive; it brings together representatives of local villages, local, regional and national government, non-governmental organisations, media, embassy representatives, mine staff, joint venture partners and contractors. The NGOs involved include organisations of expatriates from the area who now live in France and support those who remain in Mali.
The forum is an opportunity for the mine to present its activities over the year and communicate its future plans, and for villagers to express their views on the mine’s activities and their wishes in regard to development of the area. As the body with primary responsibility for development, the Malian government fields questions on its use of tax revenues and on the commitments it made the previous year.
The forum has standing follow-up committees that address agreed actions between annual meetings in order to maintain momentum. The number of committees is determined by the major issues agreed for follow-up and each committee includes representatives of stakeholder groups.
“The Stakeholder Forum has been successful in defusing possible tensions between the mine, local communities and the Malian government,” says corporate community affairs manager, Thando Njoko. “The meeting in December was the seventh of its kind. The forum has shown a maturing discussion and a spirit of partnership to achieve common goals”.
The 2009 meeting took place in early December. In addition to a review of activities, the agenda for the meeting included a discussion on closure plans for the Yatela mine. Mining is due to end in late 2011, though gold production through processing of ore stockpiles, may take place until early 2013. Yatela mine employs over 800 people and has produced over 2Moz of gold since its inception in 1996.
Yatela, along with the Morila Gold Mine, in which AngloGold Ashanti owns a stake but which is operated by Randgold Resources, will be the first major mines to close in Mali, and there is therefore significant stakeholder interest in monitoring the closure process. The Yatela mine has put in place a closure committee which is chaired by a representative of the Ministry of Mines. During the meeting there was a full report back from this committee on its activities and time was afforded for community members to propose uses for the mine infrastructure post closure.
In addition to presentations and discussion at the meeting, participants were given the opportunity to view mining activities, community projects and progress in rehabilitation of the sections of the mine which have already been closed.