Context: working to promote responsible and respectful mining operations
Guiana's forests are an ecological asset of global importance, due to its extent as well as to the diversity of its ecosystem. Mindful of the environmental consequences of mining activities, Auplata Group advocates an approach that is responsible, respectful and sustainable for Guiana's gold mining industry.
Mining operations that are responsible and respectful of environmental directives can no longer be envisaged without remediation assistance based on accurate analysis of the areas opened for mining operations.
Access to minerals requires stripping of the areas authorized for exploitation. In tropical zones, stripping a natural environment leads to erosion, which must be controlled before envisaging any ecological engineering.
2009 – 2011: Genesis
In 2009, Auplata, in collaboration with a respected local player, Les Jardins de la Comté, a nursery specializing in Guianese forest trees, had drawn up a technical plan for replanting the Yaou site, then immediately went on to:
- Install a forest nursery at the site.
- Draw up a profile of the sections to be replanted and bring in the necessary volumes of humus-bearing topsoil.
- Carry out three planting programs (May 2010, January 2011, May 2011), re-grassing trials to protect dam banks and earth benches.
The results of the tree planting (some 60 forest and fruit species) are particularly probative (over 95% rooting success rate, with an average growth rate for all species combined of 120 cm/year), unequalled in French Guiana.
2012: Verdal-Reforestage founded, an ecological engineering firm
Auplata hoped to create an environmental industry, to meet its own needs at its various mine sites as well as to extend these ecological engineering activities to other sectors of the economy with similar needs. The proven technical cooperation over the course of almost two years (technical results, training for nursery staff and operators in these new tasks), led Auplata to create, in January 2012, the company Verdal-Reforestage in partnership with Jean Weigel, the new firm's shareholder and Chief Operating Officer. With a post-graduate degree in Forestry, Jean Weigel is the man who initiated all these actions at the Yaou site as an external technical assistant. Verdal-Reforestage specializes in ecological engineering and remediation for degraded environments (mines, quarries, road corridors, channeled watercourses, land earmarked for development, etc.). The firm's objective is to combine the technical forestry expertise of a tropical forest specialist, with the industrial resources mobilizable by Auplata (mining machinery, human resources, etc.), to meet Auplata's future replanting needs as well as offer those types of services to other public or private industrial enterprises in French Guiana or in other tropical rainforest countries. Verdal-Reforestage relies on a tried and tested production infrastructure to grow forest plants and other vegetation to reintroduce into remediation programs. It maintains a permanent stock of some 100 species of trees and other plants. This central nursery, based at Pointe Maripa, grows plants from seeds to seedlings (including sowing and transplantation). Once this early growth is completed, and after rigorous selection of the best-formed plants, they are shipped to replanting sites, where temporary nurseries are installed: these "pop-up nurseries" are set up to condition and harden the plants in the soil and climatic conditions that they will encounter at the replanting sites. The success of the replantings (forest trees, orchards, or floral plantations after the destruction of their initial habitat) is entirely dependent on the quality of land-preparation: in addition to ploughing (deep tilling), it is important to transfer fertility, to compensate for the chemical poverty of tropical soils in wet climates. This preparatory work permits the reintroduced plants to develop very fast and to outgrow weeds and other invasive plants. In its activities, Verdal-Reforestage uses the most appropriate machines for its operations, with access to the very wide range of construction, forestry and agricultural equipment available in the European market in recent years. Some of these tools have never been used in Guiana before.
Example of a successful Verdal-Reforestage project: reforestation of the CL cut at Yaou mine
In 2010, Auplata initiated the replanting of the workings knows as the CL cut, at the Yaou mine site. The following photos show the various replanting stages at the site.
Etape 1 -Mai 2010:Land is prepared and retaining walls are built (posts and logs to support the earth).
Etape 2 – Plants are shipped in from the central nursery to the sites to be replanted, where temporary "pop-nurseries" are set up to condition and harden the plants with the same soil and climate conditions as the replantation sites.
Etape 3 – The best-formed plants are planted, and regrassing.
Etape 4 – View of the new plants growing.