For exemplary resettlement and community development work with the village of Fadougou at the Fekola gold mine in Mali
When B2Gold, an operator of several mines and development projects worldwide, acquired the Fekola Project in Mali in 2014, the village of Fadougou was located near the perimeter of the proposed open pit. Although relocating the residents wasn’t a condition of the mine permit, it soon became obvious that building a new village was an opportunity to invest in the long-term social and economic development of the villagers.
Resettlement is a disruptive, stressful process. So it was only after extensive engagement with the government and community members that B2Gold devised a resettlement plan to account for risks such as loss of homes, loss of livelihoods and access to land, and social disorganization.
The collaborative effort went beyond managing these risks. It improved living conditions in Fadougou by providing services, education and training, building new infrastructure and diversifying the economy. The resettlement project employed 400 members of the community during construction. It gave traditionally marginalized women a role in the planning and execution of the resettlement. And, most importantly, the process positioned the whole region for social and economic growth beyond the life of the Fekola Mine.
A cornerstone of the process was a training program called AFECK sponsored by B2Gold and the Canadian government. The four-year program provided trade skills such as carpentry, concrete finishing and solar panel installation to community members so they could participate in village construction. AFECK also offered training and support to local entrepreneurs, resulting in several new businesses. A permanent vocational centre was established to train youth in locally relevant skills such as masonry, catering and auto mechanics.
Another critical component was a grievance mechanism that allowed people affected by the resettlement to formally express their concerns and complaints. If complainants disagreed with the proposed resolution, they could appeal to a Community Resettlement Committee composed of village members, women, youth, in-migrants and local authorities.
The Fekola Mine reached commercial production in 2017 and the village construction began later that year. The first residents moved to New Fadougou in April 2019, and since then 912 households representing 3,241 people have completed the move. B2Gold continues to invest in the village of New Fadougou to ensure their long-term success. In 2018, a three-year Community Development Plan (CDP) was developed with surrounding communities, setting mid-term and long-term objectives for their own development. Current projects include improved access to potable water infrastructure, construction of primary and secondary schools, equipment and capacity building on advanced agricultural techniques.
B2Gold believes that it has a responsibility to share benefits and leave a positive legacy with communities that will last beyond the life of its mines and seeks to build a trust-based relationship with local stakeholders. The resettlement and development of the village of Fadougou by its Fekola Gold Mine demonstrates this commitment to responsible mining and to international best practice in community relations and development.