A PRODUCTIVITY GAIN

that’s paying
off

Main challenge

After a number of years of site preparation and minor activity in the compensation and resettlement areas, Guinea Alumina Corporation (GAC) was ready to move into its construction phase. In the past, the resettlement team was able to manage its activities with an existing software. However, it soon became evident that this method could no longer support the company needs and could jeopardize the construction calendar.

Solution

GAC’s management considered a number of alternatives and concluded that the Borealis Asset and Land Access Management application would greatly enhance its chances of success and meet construction phase land access requirements.

Results

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Time consuming agreement preparation and manual activities are now automated resulting in a lower risk of error.

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Payment Requests can now be simply submitted on-line to accounting for prompt payment and direct deposit with banking facilities.

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As compensation rates and inventory items reside in the software data base, field agents simply have to key respective codes and quantities. The system automatically calculates amounts owing and produces settlement documents ready for party signature.

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Trust level with communities has been greatly enhanced resulting in minimal contestation and reduced risk of operational disruptions.

Created: 2001

Type: Subsidiary of Emirates Global Aluminium

Employees: 1,000

Headquarters: Conakry, Taouyah, Commune de Ratoma

Industry: Mining & Metals

Specialties: Bauxite mining & exporting

About the project

GAC’s 690-square kilometre mining concession is located between the towns of Sangarédi and Boké. in northwest of the Republic of Guinea and about 270 kilometres north of the country’s capital, Conakry.

Bauxite extraction project

  • Traditional open pit drill-and-blast operation
  • New infrastructure being built in the concession and in the region to support mining operations
  • Start of project: 2004
  • Start of community resettlement: 2006
  • Borealis software implemented: 2014
  • Start of construction: 2017
  • Start of extraction: 2019
  • Expected yield: 12 million tons of bauxite

Guinea Alumina Corporation (GAC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Emirates Global Aluminium, the world’s largest ‘premium aluminium’ producer. It produces and exports metallurgical-grade bauxite, the ore from which aluminium is derived. Once mined, bauxite ore is sent by rail to the company’s port facilities in Kamsar, on Guinea’s Atlantic coast. It is then shipped by sea to customers around the world. GAC began bauxite exports in August 2019, and once full ramp-up is achieved GAC is expected to produce some 12 million tonnes of bauxite a year.

As Superintendent of Compensation at Guinea Alumina Corporation, Lama Diallo was faced with the major challenge of overseeing the compensation process for the eight communities requiring resettlement from land that had been conceded to the company for its bauxite mining project in the Boké region in north-western Guinea. Although his team had successfully managed compensation initiatives in the past, Lama had major concerns about the task ahead.

Resettlement of two villages was successfully but painstakingly completed between 2006 and 2008. After a pause in activities for a number of years in 2014, GAC management made the decision to move full force into the construction phase of the project. Lama and his team now had to develop a strategy that would allow for completion of the resettlement process for the eight villages in line with an extremely aggressive construction schedule. Due to urgency, resettlement activities began with a number of households being resettled.

However, the predominantly manual process with existing spreadsheet applications slowly began to create timing bottlenecks due to the increased volume of work. The Inventory taking process with local residents went well, however once back in the office things bogged down. Lama’s team had to continually reinput data at various levels resulting in redundancy. In addition to this compensation rates were constantly having to be adjusted due to the high degree of exchange rate fluctuations between the US dollar and the Guinean Franc.

As time went on, Lama’s frustrations led him to address his concerns with management. He highlighted that the current methods were time-intensive and prone to error.

Time was being lost, money wasted, and it had become next to impossible to ensure clear oversight and transparency. Manpower levels had to be increased, but more importantly his doubts on the existing computing power were emphasized.

Subsequent to internal review and evaluation of alternatives Management presented Lama with a possible solution; to implement state of the art Stakeholder Engagement software that included an Asset and Land Access Applications designed by Borealis. It became obvious to Lama and his team that this was the solution they had been looking for.

“Community members are impressed by how much detail we’re able to provide them, whether it’s a complete inventory of their personal information, household belongings or even of any grievances they may have previously voiced. Borealis software has increased the trust of community members because they can see we are making every effort to handle resettlement and compensation fairly and efficiently.”

Lama Diallo - Superintendant Compensation at GAC

Borealis Stakeholder Software

is an integrated information management system used by companies around the globe to manage various aspects of their stakeholder engagement activities:

  • Community Engagement
  • Public Affairs and Government Relations
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Regulatory and Compliance Management
  • Social Investment
  • Assets and Land Access Management
  • Grievances Management

Main stakeholder challenges

  1. A portion of GAC’s financing comes from the IFC, which requires the company to meet certain performance standards, such as the IFC PS5 on land access and resettlement.
  2. Ensuring social acceptance by fairly and promptly compensating all households in the 8 largely agricultural communities that are being resettled from the 20 plateaus slated for the mining project so that it can quickly progress to the next phase of operations.

GAC's current reality

GAC’S construction phase was successfully completed on schedule at the end of June 2019 and is now in operations mode. Production levels will gradually increase over the next 12 to 18 months.

GAC’s success story has many facets. A highly motivated and effective management team was behind this success and was the result of its ability to do the right things at the right time.

“It goes without saying that technical expertise at all levels was the overwhelming ingredient to meeting construction completion deadlines. But it became evident early-on to all levels of management that on-time delivery would not be possible without the existence of an accepted Social License within the surrounding communities. A zero-conflict level is impossible to expect in such an endeavor. However, the Community Relations department’s contributions in ensuring relative harmony with local communities during the construction phase was a key ingredient in the total picture of GAC’s success. A major component in this dynamic was to ensure resettlement and compensation to those affected by company operations was done in a fair, timely and accurate manner. The Borealis Asset and Land Access software was a significant factor in helping this happen.”

Alhassane Sakho - Community Manager

A lengthy resettlement process

First, GAC’s community relations team has to visit all communities to engage stakeholders. Specifically, their role is to ensure all local households are prepared for what’s to come by:

  • Explaining the project and the resettlement process
  • Listening to, recording and managing questions and grievances from community members
  • Forwarding this information to GAC’s compensation team

Next, GAC’s compensation team steps in. Specifically, their role is to complete the resettlement process by:

  • Taking a census of all households in the affected communities and determining who is the rightful owner
  • Going house-to house to do a full inventory of each household: residents, immovables, property size, etc.
  • Calculating a fair compensation amount for each household based on this inventory
  • Ensuring the right individuals receive the right amount of compensation within a reasonable time frame
  • Saying goodbye to needless inefficiencies and errors.

Stakeholder complaints
were difficult to manage

Prior to using Borealis software, the team used an Access database, but it had a number of limitations:

  • Stakeholder complaints were difficult to manage.
  • Compensation agreements had to be made manually and individually, with few options for officially recording them.
  • The conversion rate between the Guinean franc and the US dollar had be to calculated manually each month to determine the correct compensation – a task that was difficult, time consuming and prone to errors.

As Lama puts it, “Having only four agents and an Access database to resettle the eight villages on the concession and the Daprass sector in Kamsar within the time frame required by head office was virtually mission impossible.”

In 2014, subsequent to Lama raising his concerns with regard to available resources GAC Management started looking for a solution to accelerate the land access process and chose Borealis Assets and Land Access Management software. After seeing how it could potentially improve his day-to-day efforts, Lama was all-in.

The Borealis onboarding team worked onsite with the compensation team to define best practices and configure the software to internal processes, which in turn further strengthened Borealis’ rich community of practice.

“Being able to track the payment status of compensation funds in real time is extremely beneficial when engaging with affected stakeholders, particularly in emergency situations. Being able to keep them informed also helps to avoid potential conflicts. It doesn’t just improve dialogue with stakeholders but with Management as well.”

Lama Diallo - Superintendant Compensation at GAC

Saying hello to rapid, accurate & transparent compensation

Implementing Borealis Assets and Land Access Management software automated all compensation and resettlement tasks virtually overnight. This made things go much smoother. And much faster.

Lama also set to recruiting new agents for the team. Borealis was able to help here as well by drawing from its network of contacts from other mining companies in the region that were already using Borealis software.

This transparency was also of help when GAC was audited by the IFC. Thanks to all of the records stored in Borealis and its powerful reporting tools, the company was able to demonstrate compliance with IFC PS5 standards, thereby securing its IFC financing.

GAC’s head office also likes the transparency Borealis software brings to the field team’s compensation activities. Management can now see and evaluate all files being processed or authorized for compensation. Even better, the English-speaking management team at the head office is able to use Borealis in English while its French-speaking agents in Guinea use it in French.

“Borealis software has enabled the team to pick up the pace of work and meet the head office’s demands, all while earning the trust of communities.”

Lama Diallo - Superintendant Compensation at GAC

From social acceptance to industry role model

The expertise Lama has developed by using Borealis software recently led him to being invited by the Guinean government ’s Department of Mining to advise it on standardizing compensation rates. Most of the mining projects in the region are owned by foreign companies; a significant number of which hail from countries with questionable track records when it comes to respecting human rights. Creating regulations that standardize compensation rates will help to ensure fair payment for any local community that needs to be resettled for a mining or other large-scale project.

GAC is also taking steps to ensure the longterm financial well-being of the households it is resettling. It offers money management training in local communities to help compensated individuals understand that:

  • The amount received is not an increase in income but must be managed carefully.
  • Cash payments come with additional risks such as the risk of theft, fire, loss, etc.

“The nature of my work has also changed – with so many mundane and repetitive tasks now being automated by Borealis, I have more time to devote to communities and to the agents on my team.”

Lama Diallo - Superintendant Compensation at GAC

Ready for the long haul

GAC currently has 20 plateaus planned for its bauxite extraction project in the Boké region. Lama says that his team has carried out 8 resettlement and action plans with Borealis software to date, but as long as the company is in operation, compensation will always be one of its key activities. Knowing that Borealis software will be there to help is a huge load off his mind.

See our Assets and Land Access Management feature in action: https://youtu.be/fV8YM2Ih6Gc

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