Sustainability

"Creating a long term positive impact and
championing transparency across the industry"

Sustainability

Our Goal

It’s our goal to operate in a way that contributes positively to national economies, takes a leading role in modernising the coloured gemstone sector and building lasting, sustainable livelihoods for the communities around our mines. We believe that coloured gemstones should be mined and marketed by championing three key values - legitimacy, transparency and integrity.

Legitimacy

We go over and above accepted practices operating in a way that not only meets international and national laws, but that also challenges the sector by setting new benchmarks around sustainability.

1.

Transparency

To lead we must be transparent. As well as leading with our own standards and initiatives through our downstream supply chain, we are working with partners to standardise strong, transparent practices across the industry.

2.

Integrity

We are committed to embedding tangible operational actions from the mines onwards, to support sales and marketing of our product. Our proprietary grading system provides our partners with trusted evaluation and declaration of treatment.

3.

Sustainability

Our approach

Before starting any full scale mining operations, we work with the relevant authorities to carry out environmental impact assessments and engage with the communities as to our plans. Our approach is based on balancing what we take out with the need and desire to put something back.

Whether that’s protecting the environment, building lasting community legacies or creating a safe working environment we will only be able to operate year-on-year for the full life of the mine by securing a social licence to operate. To ensure we operate at the highest standards in this regard, we align our approach to the broader strategic aims of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Visit the United Nation's
Sustainable development goals

The protection of the environment is central to the way we carry out our mining practices. We are realistic and open about the impact of a mining operation on the environment. Before starting an operation we carry out environmental studies to guide us in managing our sites in a way that not only meets, but where possible, exceeds national and international requirements. It is our aim for all our wholly owned operations to be operating to ISO14001 to help the continuous improvement process.

Beyond the legal requirements that come with our licence, in the short-term, we strive to minimise any unnecessary impact on flora and fauna by planning our day-to-day mining activities with the environment in mind. For example, before we mine an area, we collect seeds of the indigenous plants and trees from the top soil and create a seed bank. We then grow the seeds in a nursery on site for replanting as we complete mining activity on each area. We do this on an ongoing basis both to minimise the impact on the land, to encourage biodiversity and to avoid creating excessive waste dumps which can be a blight on the landscape.

When we arrive at a mining location to start our operations, we always engage with the local community. Whilst we are reliant on the government licencing process we recognise that customary and cultural rights over land and resources is a sensitive subject, and expectations about a mining company can differ. Therefore managing our relationship with communities in a free, open and inclusive way is a priority.

As the operation progresses, we work collaboratively with communities developing and investing in projects that are likely to deliver the greatest benefit, particularly in addressing issues that most commonly affect the developing world. These projects are tailored to community needs to deliver lasting positive legacies, whether to enhance economic development, create employment, provide skills training, or improve access to health and education facilities.
We have dedicated employees at the operations in which we mine whose roles are specifically tailored towards co-operation with the local communities and to assist in the selection, and successful implementation of these community projects.

Mining can be a dangerous activity and the safety, health, and well-being of our workforce is our absolute priority. As a mining project grows from simple exploration, right up to a fully-fledged operation, safety is always at the forefront of our minds. Prior to starting an operation, we carry out health and safety risk assessments and develop tailored safety processes for each area. On site clinics and medical evacuation services ensure that the risk of medical emergencies is minimised. We enhance the wellbeing of our employees through inter-cultural and sporting events and the establishment of recreational facilities to make their stay at the operations more comfortable.

We drive a zero-harm culture through raising awareness, training and highlighting the importance of individual and shared responsibility. We operate on the basis that our operations must continuously improve in both the identification of hazards through near-miss reporting, as well as the full investigation of health and safety incidents should they occur. It is our aim for allof our majority owned operations to meet international standards such as OHSAS18001. Downstream, through a pioneering initiative in the supply chain we are carrying out business improvement audits to help our rough customers understand how to improve the safe working and wellbeing conditions of coloured gemstone cutting and polishing facilities.

Sustainability

Community Investments

At each operation, locally developed community strategies reflect the overall Gemfields approach to sustainability and are tailored to the needs of the community. Each community strategy follows a consistent approach to invest in health, education and livelihoods projects after extensive community consultation and approval of the use of available funds.

Our philosophy is that for infrastructure projects, where investment by the state is limited, we will build schools, clinics or upgrade basic utilities, roads and bridges but hand these over after developing a clear memorandum of understanding with the government. For livelihoods projects, we provide start-up funds, help to set up farming associations, provide project and financial management expertise, and facilitate training in order that projects become viable in the long-term and that communities may benefit from new sources of income in the short, medium, and long term.

Addressing health impacts in the developing world is a serious challenge. The prevalence of chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDs and malaria can destroy communities.

We are proud of our track record in improving access to basic health services in the remote areas in which we operate. We recognise that in more remote locations, the state cannot provide either the services, transport or reliable infrastructure to give people access. Our primary focus therefore is on improving health care infrastructure, outreach and education either through rehabilitating existing clinics or building new ones with the support of local government. We have also launched innovative services such as a mobile health clinic which can reach parts of the community that are too far from traditional clinic facilities.

We operate in countries that have exceptionally low levels of basic literacy and numeracy. Provision of education to children is fundamental to development but many children leave school because of the distances that need to be travelled, the quality of the teaching, the lack of infrastructure and the cost of attendance.

We have successfully built a number of schools or improved existing community schools directly in addition to receiving kind donations from external partners. We are also conscious that adult-learning is an important factor in rural economic development and have helped groups to gain access to school infrastructure for after-school classes.

In the areas in which we operate, communities can often lack any form of steady income to take them out of poverty. In remoter areas, subsistence farming is the norm, but unsustainable in the long term. Farmers are only able to provide food for themselves and sell what little is left in a piecemeal way. Our approach is to invest in high-impact livelihood projects in particular with farming associations, that produce year-round food crops and animal rearing as a form of income.

In both Zambia and Mozambique we have been instrumental in setting up farming associations that are recognised legally in each country and that have basic governance in order that all members that participate and share in the benefits. By collaborating with an association we can negotiate fairly and transparently and assist by providing training to all members. Each of our local mining operations is a ready market for buying the produce; whether it’s vegetables or chickens and we encourage our farmers to diversify their crops based on the needs of each mining operation.
With each livelihood project, after a period of investment and educational support we hand them over for full ownership by the community, and whilst we will continue to provide help should they need it, the intention is that the community should recognise the long-term benefit of the project and manage it themselves. We are particularly conscious of the importance of economic inclusion and actively seek out ways to co-operate with women’s and youth groups.

Case Study

Around our concession in Mozambique there are no readily available health facilities. The nearest is 20km away in the nearby town of Montepuez.

Recognising the need for the local communities to access basic health services, MRM has launched a mobile health clinic that visits the villages on a weekly basis. The mobile clinic provides health checks, referrals and basic treatments and is staffed by a nurse from the Ministry of Health.

In Lufwanyama district there are very few opportunities for pupils to attend secondary school if their grades allow them. If they are eligible, getting to school can be a real challenge because of the remoteness of many villages.

With this challenge in mind, we were approached by the District office of the Ministry of Education to build a secondary school at Chapula, where an existing primary school was over-attended by secondary age pupils. Construction started in 2015 and handover to the Government of Zambia was made at the end of 2016. Now over 800 pupils attend and have access to facilities that far exceed most urban schools in Zambia, let alone in rural Lufwanyama.

Through regular engagement with one of the communities close to our Montepuez ruby mine we collaborated with a group of women in Nanune village to conceive of a chicken farming project.

After establishing a women’s association we made a commitment to invest in the infrastructure, start-up inputs such as chicks and feed, and training. The commitment extended to three cycles of chicks all of which were raised for slaughter and the revenues flowing back to the association have increased over the first year. With year one complete, we have now handed over responsibility to the association and the project has been so successful that it is replicable both in Mozambique and potentially in Zambia.

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