Koniambo Nickel SAS, a joint venture between Société Minière du Sud Pacific (SMSP) and Glencore Nickel, is located in New Caledonia, an Australasian island that is widely recognised as a richly biodiverse locale. Some of the unique ecological aspects of this project area include the following:
- The natural lagoon that surrounds the large island of New Caledonia has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site;
- The region around the Koniambo Nickel site is rich in endemic species and sensitive habitats including rainforest, wetlands, mangroves, savannah and coral reefs that contain 115 IUCN Red List species of plants and animals;
- Conservation International, a global NGO, has identified New Caledonia as one of 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world; and
- The area comprises three watersheds that are important sources of water for the local communities.
- Conserving the native plant and animal life in the area of the nickel mine under development at Koniambo is a critical element of the overall site plan and preparation.
Under Glencore Nickel's leadership, the Koniambo Nickel team developed a biodiversity management plan that will guide the Company's development efforts as the project progresses. Some sensitive areas have been identified as off-limits and are protected by fencing, not to be disturbed by any mining or infrastructure development. The team is actually improving some of the local ecological resources, such as the endangered Jaffré forest, by removing invasive vegetation and replacing it with native plants selected specifically to enhance the woodlands' biodiversity. We maintain a plant nursery with representatives of endangered species that have been identified at the site. By replanting these endangered species, Koniambo Nickel is strengthening the native populations.
As road works are being constructed, rehabilitation crews are progressively restoring the temporary tracks with native species that are known to live in the area at that elevation. In addition, the SMSP-Glencore Nickel joint-venture has committed to partnering with the Government to restore previously disturbed areas that were not a result of its activities. In advance of any land disturbance, Koniambo Nickel sends botanists out to survey the area and identify individual plants that should be preserved or transplanted. It is also replanting mangroves at the coast to replace those that were removed when we constructed port facilities to serve the project. These mangroves will play a critical role in protecting the shoreline, providing additional nursery habitat for fish and invertebrates and improving overall water quality.