Interview: Christine Logbo-Kossi
In what ways has the mining sector developed in recently, and what challenges does it currently face?
CHRISTINE LOGBO-KOSSI: The mining sector in Côte d’Ivoire is growing, and the government has tried to make it a priority for the country’s economic development. The adoption of a modern mining code in 2014 and the implementation of several new regulations have developed the sector. In addition to the regulatory framework, the operational structure enables mining companies to work more efficiently. The state has also put up a strong fight against illegal activities that hinder the development of well-established mining companies.
The Ministry of Mines and Geology has launched a training programme to raise awareness and train Ivorian nationals on artisanal or semi-industrial mining practices. There is no doubt that the sector is in a positive growth dynamic: in less than 10 years, its contribution to GDP has increased from less than 1% to 4%, a figure that could grow even bigger in the coming years due to recent exploration activity.
However, many challenges remain to be addressed. First, research and exploration needs to be encouraged and intensified. The ministry should grant more titles so that more companies will come and explore the country and uncover mineral deposits. Undertaking research is vital because Côte d’Ivoire only has normal-sized mines, which means that the country is not yet capable of competing among world mining leaders.
Another challenge has to do with human resources and the need for their further development in the country. Today there are multinational companies that invest in job training for locals. We need to go a step further and ensure that the wealth resulting from the mining industry is inclusive, especially for groups that are less involved in the sector, such as women and young people.
The third challenge Côte d’Ivoire faces has to do with the introduction and implementation of digital technology, which can develop the sector by increasing productivity in the transformation of our resources.
How do you assess the results achieved with the implementation of the mining code?
LOGBO-KOSSI: The 2014 mining code was supported by the entire mining sector and was written following the participation and collaboration of all the stakeholders, including the government, the private sector, civil society and development partners. As a result, five years after the implementation of the code, its global assessment is a positive one. One tangible result has been the establishment of a police squad to fight illegal mining activities in the country. However, the code also has its weaknesses. For example, although the procedure for applying for permits is straightforward, there is a need to further clarify certain aspects. The role of the Local Mining Development Committee, which manages the funds intended for the development of the communities where mining companies operate, is not clearly defined. What the new mining code is lacking is a more effective implementation.
What can be done to minimise the environmental impact of mining companies?
LOGBO-KOSSI: The mining sector is not the largest polluter in terms of environmental damage. The sector is highly regulated in regards to handling chemicals, ecological maintenance, and air and water pollution for all legal and organised mining activities. Moreover, there are a number of international environmental standards that govern the sector in order to minimise the impact on the environment. There are also many initiatives that favour systematic reforestation, putting particular emphasis on the recolonisation of different kinds of flora and fauna. Furthermore, research and development is enabling mining companies to use less chemical procedures that can be destructive to the soil. One of the objectives of the Chamber of Mines is to bring together all these individual initiatives and get the public familiarised with them so that they are aware of our commitment to environmental protection.
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