SEMAFO's strategy is to partner with communities, governments and other mining industry stakeholders so that our host countries, including the communities neighboring our mines, benefit from our activities. This value creation extends to all our stakeholders, from governments to investors.
In the conduct of its operations, SEMAFO goes beyond meeting minimum requirements to comply with applicable laws and recognized international standards in terms of responsible corporate behavior. The Corporation’s two-pronged approach to the local communities comprises direct community relations and the realisation of community projects by SEMAFO Foundation.
SEMAFO is cognizant that the social acceptability of projects calls for clear communication on its part and an attentive ear to issues raised by communities. Some projects require the displacement of villagers or the use of areas that include cultivable land, which can lead to a decrease in income and livelihoods for owners and farmers. These initiatives require a measured approach in order to mitigate negative social and economic impacts. SEMAFO ensures that any displacement and compensation are accompanied by appropriate communication.
While the Corporation uses a range of techniques to maintain relations, the most effective method is the appointment of a community relations person who listens, communicates and resolves disputes on a daily basis. In addition, managers holds regular awareness sessions in the villages in order to maintain an atmosphere of mutual confidence with administrative, religious and traditional authorities. Through these open relations, we foster partnerships with the communities.
In keeping with our desire to create an environment conducive to the improvement of lives and livelihoods of people in the countries in which we operate, the Mana Mine supports the local population directly through a number of near-mine initiatives. These include providing financial support for local customs, upgrading roads in the immediate vicinity of the mine, repairing water wells and transporting patients to health facilities.
In addition to supporting community development, the Mana Mine is a direct and indirect source of job creation and development of small businesses in the local community. More than 96% of the jobs directly involved in mining and exploration activities at Mana are held by Burkinabe nationals, a significant number of which come from the neighbouring communities.
Our ability to build good relations with communities is bolstered by the presence of SEMAFO Foundation, which in 2016 celebrates its seventh anniversary. Through its inauguration of the Foundation and role as major financial partner, the Corporation is an active player in helping realise community projects for the benefit of the local community in proximity to its mining operations. During the six years of the Foundation's existence, 153 villages in West Africa have benefited from its income-generating projects, new education and health infrastructure in addition to its charitable donations.
By aligning its activities to the specific needs of the population, SEMAFO Foundation has acquired humanitarian expertise that promotes education, agriculture and health. Throughout the years, this expertise has allowed the foundation to work towards the objective of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in the areas of primary education, empowerment of women and the elimination of extreme poverty.