Our mission is to discover and develop the earth’s resources in an efficient and responsible manner. Orezone has adopted an approach to exploration and development that is built on a foundation of widely accepted industry standards and best practices including the Performance Standards of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), e3 Plus Principles and Guidance – A Framework for Responsible Exploration, and ISO 26000.
Trust, cooperation, collaboration and a deep respect for the local people, their language, livelihoods, traditions and customs, are at the heart of our approach to exploration and development. We engage early in open honest dialogue with the local communities and stakeholders and are committed to ensuring that they realize the maximum possible benefit from our activities. Orezone recognizes that although it is granted exploration and development rights from the government, it must also gain the support, participation and commitment of local communities and government.
Orezone meets with its stakeholders to explain the mining cycle, from exploration through development, production and reclamation, to ensure they understand what to expect, and when. We listen to and understand their developmental priorities and highlight the benefits and opportunities that our activities can provide in the short and long term. This includes improved access to clean drinking water, healthcare, better sanitation, employment and safe working conditions, and training. On a regular basis, we keep these stakeholders apprised of our current exploration activities in their region. and inform and remind them of safety precautions.
We also recognize that our development and sustainability efforts are part of a broader set of activities being driven by the communities, governments, NGOs and other organizations. As such, we work closely and collaboratively with these groups at the appropriate stage to help ensure we are efficiently aligned with these programs, so that the impact of our initiatives is maximized.
One of the key measures of success we evaluate in our drive to becoming a gold producer is the degree to which we positively impact the communities in which we operate.
WATER & SANITATION
Limited access to clean water and sanitation services in parts of Burkina Faso contribute to many diseases. Establishing water points closer to villages helps reduce health risks and it also allows children to attend school and people to focus on other duties as they do not have to spend the bulk of their day transporting water. Building latrines in close proximity to villages or schools can also have a significant lifestyle impact on villagers, particularly girls and women.
Orezone began a project in partnership with Ryan’s Well Foundation, a Canadian organization dedicated to providing clean water and sanitation services to communities in which the Company operates. Several communities have benefited from improved water access as a result of Orezone’s well-drilling initiatives in Burkina Faso and Niger. Since 2004, Orezone and Ryan’s Well Foundation have teamed up on more than $300,000 of projects that have benefited thousands of people in need. In addition, Orezone executives have previously sat on the Ryan’s Well Foundation board and provided strategic and financial advice to help further its initiatives.
During Q2 2015 the Company initiated a water drilling program that added 20 wells to the local community in the area surrounding the Bomboré mining permit.
EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION & TRAINING
In addition to relying on nationals in Burkina Faso to manage and execute our exploration programs and operations, Orezone makes every effort to hire and train local laborers and support staff and requests all contractors to do the same. Our exploration camps are built and staffed by locals, and we support these communities by buying local produce and related services. As we move towards developing Bomboré into a mine, we will help identify and train those individuals that are well-suited to different trades and occupations at the mine and mill, and we expect that about half of the employees will come from the local area where the project is located.
Orezone also supports the local academic community in Burkina Faso. The Company has initiated programs to support various academic initiatives including the donation of equipment to the University of Ouagadougou, as well as graduate study support for students pursuing Masters and Ph.D. level degrees in geological disciplines.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Orezone works to minimize and manage any risks associated with our exploration and development sites. We provide health and safety information that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for the local population and take appropriate measures to prevent accidents, protect workers from hazardous materials, and ensure that equipment is in safe working condition. We communicate these expectations to the contractors we rely on and take reasonable steps to verify that contractors meet the appropriate health and safety standards.
Orezone conducts its exploration and development activities in ways that minimize the disturbance to the environment and people. Baseline environmental studies and an environmental impact assessment study were initiated at Bomboré in 2009. Updated baselines studies were completed in February 2015 and the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and Relocation Plan approvals received in May 2016. The area of the project is characterized by lands with poor to modest agricultural potential. Subsistence farming and cattle breeding are the main activities of the local population, supplemented by artisanal gold mining. Indigenous vegetation and fauna have been largely destroyed due to the demographic pressure and the artisanal gold mining. A large industrial mining project represents a unique opportunity to improve the local farming techniques, improve the access to water resources, address the environmental issues created by the artisanal gold miners and revegetate the area as part of the mine closure and rehabilitation plan.