We place a high priority on our social and environmental responsibilities, and we are particularly focused on the welfare of local communities in the Katran District where we operate. We seek to build strong stakeholder relationships and we place considerable importance on the development of close working relationships with the local community and appropriate authorities.
The key challenges are:
- Managing expectations during the exploration period
- Lack of local involvement and representation
- Employment opportunities
- Fears of contamination
The Company is committed to addressing these challenges and has instituted the following programmes:
- Commitment to the employment of local labour where possible
- Sponsoring of local education provision and university places for residents
- Development of local infrastructure by contribution to road and bridge building
- Exploration and mining activities which are sustainable and sensitive to local environmental needs.
Aprelskoe’s partner Almazintech has a long history of working within the Kyrgyz mining industry, including at the Aprelskoe deposit and the Karachokinskaya field. The Company will be working closely with EcoPartners LLC, an eco-consulting company based in Bishkek to address the environmental and social and welfare concerns of the local community.
EcoPartners advises companies operating in the Kyrgyz Republic in relation to ecological issues, minimising the environmental impact of a project, general environmental issues and minimising adverse social and economic effects on local communities.
On the advice of EcoPartners Aprelskoe will enter into an agreement with the council of the Katran District to assist in the region’s socio-economic development. The Company is working to establish an active community engagement programme with participation from a number of different sections of the communities situated near the areas covered by the Licences.
The objectives of the community engagement programme are:
- to improve the local population’s understanding of the concepts behind and processes required for the development of the Aprelskoe deposits and the Karachockinskaya field;
- to ensure the concerns of the local population are addressed by the Company; and
- to ensure that the support provided by the Company to the local population is invested in accordance with the wishes of the local community and for their general benefit.
An agreement in principle has already been reached with the Katran District which will include provisions relating to infrastructure, education of the local population, improving the skills of the local community and recreational activities. The initial 18 month project will:
- sponsor a number of students through higher education programmes focussed on the development of skills required for a career in the mining sector (principally in geology and mine engineering);
- employ a number of suitably qualified and experienced workers for the exploration programme to be carried out by the Enlarged Group from amongst the residents of the Katran District and Ozgorush, both of which are situated close to the Aprelskoe Deposits;
- make a financial contribution to the Katran District and other villages located nearby with the aim of improving local schools and to develop cultural and sports programmes;
- make a financial contribution to the ‘People’s Control’ fund, a fund run by the Katran District which aims to facilitate co-operation between local residents and the Company in respect of the Company’s operations at the Aprelskoe Deposits; and
- make a financial contribution to ‘Taza Suu’ which is a project for the constructionof a water pipeline within in the Katran District.