Kadjo Kouamé, Managing Director, Société d’Etat pour le Développement Minier de Côte d’Ivoire (SODEMI): Interview

Kadjo Kouamé, Managing Director, Société d’Etat pour le Développement Minier de Côte d’Ivoire (SODEMI)

 Interview: Kadjo Kouamé

How attractive is the mining code to operators that wish to work in Cote d’Ivoire?

KADJO KOUAME: In 2014, Côte d’Ivoire won a prize during the Mines and Money conference in London for having the best mining code. This means that our code is one of the most advanced in the world. In practice, of course, there is still some room for improvement, but countries in the region that are currently reviewing their own codes ask for a copy of ours to get inspired. This code provides a good balance among investors, the state and communities. It takes into consideration the most important global initiatives such as the Kimberley Process, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and other measures related to sustainable development. The mining code provides a very clear fiscal framework for foreign companies investing in the country. Prior to the code, mining operators were working in an ever-changing fiscal environment.

What role does the private sector play in the country’s growing mining industry?

KOUAME: Private sector participation is both essential and expected. In terms of mining exploitation, there are no state-owned or state-run companies intervening. Exploitation activities are undergone entirely by the private sector, so they are the ones generating and maintaining jobs. Many people look at the tax environment as a good indicator, but most importantly, we need to look at how many jobs are created by the private sector within the industry. On the one hand, we have large companies like BHP or Newmont, which are mostly interested in advanced projects; on the other, we have small and medium-sized companies, which mainly aim for grassroots projects.

To what extent are sustainable mining practices implemented in Côte d’Ivoire?

KOUAME: According to the new mining code, a small percentage of the mine’s turnover is allocated to local community development, and each mine now has a committee charged with the monitoring and preservation of these communities. Also, under the follow-up programme, when mining operations have concluded, various stakeholders – such as employees – are provided support in the transition to other activities. Our close relationship with authorities charged with the implementation of the Kimberley Process also shows our commitment to overcome some of our past challenges relating to unlawful and unsustainable practices. With regards to the soil, the aftermine programmes include a special fund dedicated to the rehabilitation of mining sites. This can be done by replanting trees, planting cashews, creating fish farming ponds or other initiatives. Indeed, we alter the natural landscape, but we do so by giving it added value. Small-scale operations – which use less chemical products – allow us to take these measures. However, when dealing with soil that has been heavily affected by chemical compounds, we instead dedicate it to sawmills, carpentry and other such activities.

Which of the country’s minerals have the most potential for mining and export?

KOUAME: Côte d’Ivoire alone has one-third of western Africa’s gold potential. For this reason, we have seen investment pouring into the sector from abroad from companies such as Endeavour, Randgold and Newmont. After gold, Côte d’Ivoire has two large deposits of nickel capable of competing on a global scale. In this regard, our major handicap remains the transport distance between the mining site and the port. The government is making great strides to overcome this issue, so that in three to five years we can have a suitable solution. The same area also contains three large deposits of iron – which may amount to 5bn tonnes – two of which are already exploitable. Given the size of these deposits, rail is the only real suitable transport method to avoid having 200 large trucks on the roads every day.

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The Report: Côte d'Ivoire 2017

Industry & Mining chapter from The Report: Côte d'Ivoire 2017

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