Economic and Community Development
Our mines are based in some of the most economically challenged and remote corners of the world. But there is no rule that says our host regions must stay like that. We believe mining companies such as ourselves can and should have a transformative role in harnessing their abundance of potential from human talent to clean energy and arable land. At a national level we contribute in a number of ways including paying taxes, dividends and royalties, joint ownership of the mines with our host countries, the building of vital infrastructure and by support for local supply chains and local skills.
The same philosophy applies at community level where we seek to help empower our host communities to build thriving local economies, viable over the long term.
Issues such as economic development, community development and investment and skills transfer and training all appear as priority items on our Materiality Assessment and this section explores in more detail how we manage these issues.
New customs house saves costs and helps put communities on the map
Many of the materials required by the Loulo- Gounkoto complex in Mali are transported overland from Dakar in Senegal. In 2013 we worked with the Malian and Senegalese governments and other stakeholders to help fund a new border crossing at Koundan, about 30km from the mine. However, the border was without an official customs house which meant goods still had to be transported the long way round through Kayes before coming to the mines, meaning additional transport costs and time.
In 2015, in order to make the border completely operational, Randgold invested over $650 000 to build the Mahinamine customs office. The impressive new offices were officially opened in the last quarter of 2015 with a ceremony attended by a number of dignatories including the Malian Minister of Training, the National Director of Customs for Mali and the Mayor of Kenieba.
Having a fully operational border close to the mine has not just improved transport times and brought costs down for Randgold, it has also brought economic benefit for the local community. Local businesses now enjoy more efficient supply lines and a number of new businesses have sprung up along the road near the border, transforming Koudan into a thriving urban centre. Randgold and the local community development committee are currently investigating the feasibility of constructing a hotel to create a further economic boost to the town.
Strategies and Policies
All our mines need the support and goodwill of the communities in which they are based to be able to operate successfully. We aim to build strong and transparent relationships and view each community as a partner who can provide us with talented employees, a secure environment and local knowledge and who can use us to build better local health and education facilities and more prosperous local economies.
Our guiding policy in this area is to empower each community through the creation of community development committees (CDCs). Each CDC consists of a representative mix of local leaders, women and youth delegates and others and is empowered to decide how best to spend an annual community investment budget within the five broad sustainable development categories of education, primary health, food security, potable water and local economic development. The process is depicted on the following page.
Similarly, where we invest in a new facility such as a school, health clinic or fresh water well we also work closely with the CDCs or local authorities to ensure that it can be maintained after the mine has closed.
The amount invested through community development committees increased by over $3.6 million in 2015, a rise of 136% on the previous year. This has led to a range of vital investments in health, education, local economic development, food security and drinking water projects across all our host communities.
Improving education at Tongon
Since Tongon began operations in 2010 it has spent almost $650 000 on the building and equipping of schools in eight community villages. Both Randgold’s community team and the Tongon community development committee have been determined to ensure that this type of capital investment is the start not the end of a journey – with the aim to create transformational change in the educational opportunities open to children in the region.
With this in mind, 2015 has been a significant year because Tongon saw not only the opening of new facilities but improving pass rates and other positive educational outcomes.
Starting with bricks and mortar
The first part of catalysing educational excellence around Tongon has been the creation of new facilities. Since Tongon began operations this has included:
- The creation of five new schools in the Ivorian villages of Tongon, Kationron, Katonon and Mbengue, each housing about 300 new pupils each year.
- The separate creation and equipping of 44 classrooms or other academic related buildings for at least 3 000 pupils. Also the creation of three computer rooms.
- The building or renovation of 13 new houses for teachers, helping attract high quality teachers to the area.
- The electrification of the Tongon and Poungbe schools.
Focusing on educational attainment
To help drive up standards, Randgold has also encouraged the creation of a reward scheme for the three best pupils by grade and school in certain local districts. The scheme has been piloted in the last two years with our CEO Mark Bristow chairing the ceremony and handing out the awards to pupils.
In total the scheme has seen over 150 pupils rewarded each year with useful items such as stationery. 2015 saw a particularly encouraging impact of these efforts in the Mbengue district, with pass rates in the national exams for ages 11 to 13 reaching a record rate of 97.26% for the district, well above the national success rate of 82%.