Three environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs) have been conducted by the company to date. The first started in 2010 and was focussed on the exploration activities necessary to delineate the potash orebodies in the Sintoukola exploration permit area to the north of Madingo Kayes. The second ESIA was focussed on the Kola orebody near Koutou and the third ESIA focussed on the Dougou deposit near Yanika.
The exploration ESIA resulted in an environmental and social management programme to guide the exploration activities and was approved by the Government in 2011. Several addenda to the original exploration ESIA have been submitted to Government to cover the expansion of the exploration programme over the past five years.
The mining ESIA for the Kola deposit was submitted to the Government in 2012 along with a mining plan. The ESIA was approved in 2013 and resulted in the delineation of the Kola Mine License Area. This ESIA included a study of the coastal area that would host the proposed marine loading facilities, the corridor between the coast and the mining area and the utility routes from Pointe Noire.
The Dougou ESIA started in 2015 and the draft report was submitted to the Government in August 2016.
The company is currently busy with an update to the Kola ESIA in parallel to the DFS in preparation for the commencement of construction of the mine. The updated studies are expected to be completed in 2018.
Locating a large, job-creating mine near a nature reserve may result in unintended environmental and social consequences. One of the potential impacts of the Kola project which was identified by the ESIA process, was increased illegal access in to the Conkouati-Douli National Park (CDNP) as a result of an influx of job-seekers into the area.
The project engineers had originally selected truck haulage of ore from the mine to the coastal processing facility. After a trade-off study, which included environmental and social aspects, the design was changed to a fenced conveyor belt to transport the ore.
Underpasses along the conveyor route would be sized to ensure that legitimate community use of natural resources in the CDNP continued and that animals could negotiate the barrier, but trucks used for illegal timber harvesting and poaching could not get across. This solution was welcomed by conservation NGOs.
The proposed mine village and the construction camp have been located away from the park to increase social integration with the existing town of Madingo Kayes and to draw job-seekers away from settling on the park boundaries.
Kore Potash’s Kola and Dougou projects lie in the coastal plain of the RoC – an area that provides a critical low altitude savannah and forest link between the rain forests of Gabon and the DRC.
Environmental problems associated with development in the RoC are compounded by a lack of knowledge on ecology and biodiversity, with most existing work being dated and descriptive. Large areas of the country remain unexplored. This lack of knowledge inhibits proactive management and makes it difficult to reliably predict the environmental impacts of development.
Many of the systems in the ecoregion remain to be sampled, especially the small coastal basins. Very little information is available on the life history, distribution and ecology of freshwater species in the entire region.
The biodiversity studies conducted by specialist consultants Fauna Flora & Man Ecological Services Ltd and conservation NGOs on behalf of Kore Potash for the environmental impact assessment baseline have provided valuable new scientific data on the biodiversity of the coastal plain of the RoC.
Large mammals such as forest elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees and the African buffalo occur and there is also a rich diversity of fish and bird species.
This stretch of beach at Tchiboula is an important nesting area for two species of marine turtles: the Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and the Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).
The Leatherback is listed as critically endangered (Cr) and the Olive Ridley turtle as vulnerable (Vu) at the world scale but its local status in the Atlantic Ocean should be up scaled since the trends and threats for this species seem worse in the Atlantic compared to the rest of the world.
Kore Potash has incorporated the contributions of both Renatwa and the UCS into the ESIA.
One fish specie was encountered that cannot be assigned to any known species and is therefore also considered new to science.
Three of the consultants employed during the biodiversity studies for Sintoukola ESIA have made requests to use the raw data on species for their PhD theses, which are registered with the University Marien Ngouabi in Brazzaville.
The following scientific papers are based on work undertaken on behalf of Kore Potash:
Walsh, G., M.N. Jonker & V. Mamonekene (2014) A collection of fishes from tributaries of the lower Kouilou, Noumbi and smaller coastal basin systems, Republic of Congo, Lower Guinea, west-central Africa, Check List Journal of Species Lists and Distribution, pp 900 – 912 Van Rooyen, M., N. van Rooyen, B. Orban, J. Gaugris, J.M. Moutsamboute, G. Nsongola & E.S. Miabangana (in press) Floristic composition, diversity and stand structure of the forest communities in the Kouilou Department, Republic of Congo, 50p.