Akobo Minerals is working hard to develop a best-in-class mining exploration business. As such, we recognise the importance of the role that corporate social responsibility (CSR) has to play in meeting this goal. That means understanding, reporting on and improving the CSR metrics that will take our operation forward – both for the benefit of our employees and the wider community.
We also recognise that while we are a European based business operating in Africa, we are committed to upholding the CSR standards of a European organisation. As such, in 2020 we spent considerable time and resources in setting up a robust CSR program that covers our health & safety and environmental (HSE) responsibilities, our work in the community and training of our staff.
Mining exploration carries with it inherent risks, but it is our responsibility to mitigate as much as we can these risks. And health & safety is the method by which we will achieve this. During 2020, Akobo Minerals spent considerable time improving and expanding our health & safety initiatives, particularly through the training of staff. This begins with learning about and understanding the importance of using personal protective equipment, such as boots and goggles, through to safety considerations when using heavy plant equipment.
All our Ethiopian employees have worked very well in ensuring that health & safety considerations have been top of their agendas. This is helped by the cultural norm in Ethiopia which is very much geared towards looking out for each other. At the same time, the company is working hard to develop formalised training systems and a strong reporting procedure, so we can see areas for improvement right across our operations. Though, historically, there have been differences between European and Ethiopian safety standards, we will never compromise the need to look after our employees in the workplace.
Towards the end of 2020, we undertook a root and branch process to look out how we can mitigate risk across the business. On completion of this, we have now rolled out our program to benefit all staff. At its most basic level, health & safety is about protecting our investment and with our employees being our greatest resource, we are impressing upon them how we will support them in their work and their attitude to understanding and learning what is required of them has been exemplary. During the year there were no loss-time incidents among our 30 on site personnel in Ethiopia, although there was one incident during operational activities which resulted in a minor injury to one employee. Because the company is operating in such a remote location, it has been stressed to all employees how important health & safety is and how any injuries could have a significant impact as we are very much self-reliant. 2020 was a significant year in further professionalising our health & safety program and protecting and empowering our staff. This initiative will continue through 2021.
Akobo Minerals recognises that, though we are a reasonably small exploration business, our activities still impact the environment. Therefore, we strive to minimize the environmental footprint of our operations and implement strict environmental management systems in our community. A baseline ESG study is planned for 2021.
We consider ourselves to be a caring employer that recognises the importance of supporting the community in which we operate. The company has a history of local contributions and in 2020, we extended our community program with a number of new initiatives.
With the region being so remote, maintaining good transport infrastructure is important. We have helped to ensure the only road locally is of sound quality by making general repairs to its surface. Also during 2020, we made a significant upgrade to a landing strip near to our camp, so light aircraft are now able to land and take-off
A program of local community initiatives in 2020 included buying tables and chairs for local schools and football clothing for local junior soccer teams. With our operation based in Ethiopia, we are keen to wherever possible employ Ethiopian nationals so we can benefit the local community. There are presently 40 Ethiopians working at all levels of the company, from security and administration through to geologists and drillers. Many local employees have a university education and we ensure that we can nurture that talent with our training programs to further develop their capabilities and help them to realise their potential.
In 2020, we set out to assess and create a quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) program for all aspects of our business. Our training & development program for staff is characterised by our commitment to best practice and continuous improvement processes to ensure that we are constantly refining our operational performance. We are always looking for excellence in our operations and, importantly, we abide by the JORC Code, for the reporting of our mineral resources. To do this, we have developed an online training program, which is being initiated for our geologists, so we have complete transparency of our mineral exploration activities.
Akobo Minerals is committed to achieving the highest standards of corporate governance and strives to maintain the utmost levels of best practice as defined by Scandinavian corporate governance procedures. We conform to the most stringent ethical and anti-corruption standards through transparent reporting on every aspect of the company’s operational and financial activities – all of which are audited by highly respected international firms.
Akobo Minerals is committed to building a company that looks after their needs of our employees and the needs of the community in which they live and work. As we operate in such a remote part of the world, we have a continuous focus on the most up-to-date safety equipment, systems and modern conveniences at site, ensuring a safe workplace for our staff. We have a program of employee training & development so they can meet their potential. We will also act to make the local community a part of our wider business, so we can have a positive impact on their lives.
All of our successes will be a result of our commitment to our staff and to supporting the local community. This is why corporate social responsibility underpins our business – today and tomorrow.