GAC: A responsible partner in Guinea

The Republic of Guinea is home to over 50 percent of the world’s reserves of bauxite, the principal aluminium ore, but only accounts for 7 percent of global production and 20 percent of the global export markets.

Sustainable development of the industry and any related infrastructure will be central to the nation’s future economic growth.

For emerging industry player Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), jointly owned by International Investment Financial Corporation and the Investment Corporation of Dubai, access to the core materials of the smelting process through companies such as Guinea Alumina Corporation (GAC) is a critical component of the business’s long-term success.

Working in partnership with Guinean stakeholders, GAC is working to achieve these compatible and mutually beneficial goals, built on the foundations of International Investment Financial Corporation’s commitment to good corporate citizenship and social development.

A bridge to new beginnings

A bridge built by Guinea Alumina Corporation (GAC) as part of its commitment to supporting its surrounding communities has brought the world a step closer for the villagers of the Sangaredi sub-prefecture in western Guinea.

In the past, villagers had to walk 15 kilometers to participate in Friday prayers. Now, their journey to the mosque can be measured in minutes rather than hours following the official handover of a new bridge spanning the Thiankoun Thioli River to the local communities in July 2015.

Local resident Amadou Bah expressed the appreciation of the Sangredi villagers for the successful project, pointing out the new opportunities the bridge afforded them. “GAC’s gesture has changed our lives for the better as well as those of our children and grandchildren. The only thing we can say is ‘thank you’,” he said.

The Governor’s representative said GAC’s gesture had touched both the communities of Sangaredi and the Guinean authorities, and was an example to other mining companies in the country. “You have demonstrated that you are a citizen company,” he said.

GAC CEO William Morrell said the company is committed to maintaining a relationship with local communities that is based on mutual respect, and would work to develop the skills of local residents to work on GAC’s mega-projects.

Community development

GAC has invested substantially in the local community with a strong focus on providing better quality educational, civil and health services. In 2015, GAC invested in the region of US$ 800,000 in development projects.

GAC’s community investment program has included three school construction projects:

  • Reconstruction of an elementary school in Sangaredi, comprising 24 classrooms that can accommodate up to 1,200 students.
  • A new school with six classrooms in Silidara where 240 students can follow the primary curriculum.
  • The renovation of a college in Sangaredi where a further 2,000 students can be enrolled.

GAC’s program also included the refurbishment and extension of a fully equipped health post on the GAC concession in Sangaredi to replace the outdated public structure built in the 1960s.

Wider community deliverables have included the refurbishment of a community center and the Boké hospital water supply, the installation of six solar public lighting poles and the drilling of 23 community wells in the Boké prefecture.

Mamady Youla, Corporate Affairs General Manager at GAC, said, “From the outset GAC has made considerable and varied social and economic investments for the local communities in Boké. We are fully committed to ensuring the success and positive development of the broader society in which we operate.

In our social interventions, we engage with a variety of stakeholders and associate the direct beneficiaries in the planning and evaluation process in order to ensure they take full ownership of their projects.”

GAC has also been working to develop the capabilities of the local population, graduating 94 young people from a six month training program in vocational activities and establishing 40 Adult Literacy Centers which have seen 1,600 participants from 175 villages and hamlets.

Micro-projects for local communities

Since its formation, in addition to the major health and educational infrastructure work it delivers, GAC has initiated several micro-projects to support the development of local communities.

In 2015, 16 micro-projects that met the project eligibility criteria were approved by GAC senior management and representatives of the local communities.

Approved projects included two community storage facilities, a local community meeting hall, more than 8,000 meters of fencing for four villages, two wells, two video clubs and a rice huller.

Community representatives have established a monitoring team to ensure that these projects are well executed and have demonstrated their support through ongoing participation and in-kind contributions.

Employee and community safety

GAC has an overriding commitment to health and safety, with the aim of causing ‘Zero Harm’ to people, the communities in which it operates and the environment.

In November 2015, GAC achieved the significant milestone of 3.4 million man-hours without a Lost Time Injury (LTI) under EGA, a significant achievement in the field of construction, mining and infrastructure projects. The company’s health and safety approach focuses on identifying and controlling hazards, reducing exposure to risks, and supporting the general health and wellbeing of all teams and contractors.