Community engagement
Since 2010, Avocet has used a foundation to act as the vehicle for its community based projects in Burkina Faso. The Fondation Avocet pour le Burkina (‘FAB’) is governed by representatives of Avocet, Avocet’s local subsidiary SMB and local community leaders. Inata’s Community Relations department manages the day to day running of FAB.
During 2014, the primary focus of FAB was to contribute to the sustainable development of the communities around the Inata mine and exploration areas. This involved liaising with representatives of community groups, as well as local, regional and national organisations, as well as NGOs and other international development groups. Over 500 visits to communities were undertaken in the year, as well as 67 monthly meetings held at riparian villages. These meetings were used as opportunities to update both sides on issues and concerns, as well as providing information on progress with regard to previous commitments.
It was agreed that the FAB strategy needed to be amended to focus on contribution to projects that would enable communities to become self-sustaining, rather than simply contributing to capital projects that would require external financial support even after the end of mining at Inata.
Five areas in particular were identified as key development areas:
Drinking water. The foundation constructed, in conjunction with local villages, a total of 7 artisanal wells, servicing 5 villages around Inata. The villagers were trained in the repair and maintenance of these wells, which provide 2,700 villagers who live in an arid region with access to clean potable water;
Education and training. The provision of education and training was identified as critical if local communities are to develop the skills to develop their own economies. Activities during 2014 in this area included the provision of books and other teaching materials, school furniture and equipment, undertaking of minor repairs and maintenance, and the construction of additional classrooms. In addition, 160 young villagers were given training in driving motorised vehicles, allowing them to obtain driving licences which are important to their chances of obtaining work in local mining sites as well as other sectors such as transportation, agriculture, etc.;
Healthcare. As well as providing healthcare services for the mine site, Inata’s medical teams also extended its coverage to local communities, where malaria is a particular problem. Specific activities in this area included the distribution of malaria kits, mosquito nets, and education programmes;
Supporting local economies. Under FABs direction, it was agreed that all non-technical construction, repair, maintenance and supplies for the mine would be sourced locally; and
Sustainable energy. In conjunction with Total Burkina, FAB provided a number of local communities with access to green energy through the distribution of 1,000 solar panels.
The safety of our employees and contractors is paramount to Avocet. There were no Lost Time Incidents (LTI) in 2014. This represents a considerable achievement, and management and staff at all levels of the organisation are proud of this.
In November 2011, Avocet became a signatory to the ICMC. The ICMC is an industry voluntary program for gold mining companies. It focuses exclusively on the safe management of cyanide and cyanidation mill tailings and leach solutions.
Avocet has become a Supporting Company of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The EITI is a coalition of governments, companies and civil society which sets a global standard for managing the transparency of revenues from natural resources.