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Case study – Environmental stewardship begins with exploration

Case study – Environmental stewardship begins with exploration

Sankarani River in Mali


Long before Gold Fields sinks the first shaft or opens the first pit, the company would already have spent years determining whether it will be able to mine in a way that is sustainable and causes Zero Harm to the local communities and the environment.

Our Komana mineral exploration project in Mali is a prime example of the company’s commitment to determining sustainability in the exploration stage. External consultants, Environmental Resources Management, were contracted to undertake a comprehensive environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) to establish the key economic, social and environmental impacts our operations could have.

This can only be achieved by getting to know local communities and the place they call home. The Komana ESIA therefore necessarily included in-depth consultation with the local authorities and extensive public participation by members of communities within the area. This goes hand in hand with independent investigations into the area’s cultural heritage, biodiversity and water resources.

As is often the case in areas with a predominantly rural population, environmental and social considerations are inextricably linked in Mali and the majority of residents rely on the land for their livelihood. This presents risks and opportunities. The ESIA highlights the economic importance and ecological sensitivity of the Sankarani River, which runs through the exploration area and is used by local people for drinking, fishing and irrigation. But it also highlights the opportunity for Gold Fields to bring employment, infrastructure, better schooling and medical care to the local community. These considerations will be carefully weighed up before Gold Fields decides to go ahead with mining.