A Community Consultation Group (CCG) has been established with participation from all sections of the communities near the Chaarat deposit, including the heads of the two local Keneshes (councils).
Chaarat has also demonstrated its partnership with the region by moving its taxpayer location from Bishkek (the capital) to Kanysh Kya (the village nearest the mine site). This means that Chaarat is now paying its taxes regionally and is the largest independent contributor to the local coffers. The local authorities are pleased with Chaarat’s move and are trying to encourage other companies to follow our example.
Chaarat makes investment decisions based on the following principles:
• The number of people who benefit from the project
• The potential to operate independently of the company and to continue when support ends
• The potential to increase professional and employment skills within the community
• The availability of contributions from the initiators of the project either in monetary or work
• The ability to monitor and report on the impact of the investment
The objectives of the CCG based on these principles are:
• To establish that the local population understands the process and concept of development of the Chaarat deposit and any concerns are addressed
• To ensure that the support provided by the Company to the local community is invested according to the priorities of the local communities and for their general benefit
Projects are selected through a transparent process and in cooperation with community representatives. The results of the decision-making process are documented and made publicly available. The first formal round of financing for local projects was conducted in May 2013. Chaarat strongly encourages projects that fit with existing socio-economic development strategies and that build on initiatives which are already underway. The projects we support must become self-sustaining.
The following three major social projects were selected by agreement with the local government, the community and Chaarat: infrastructure, education and skills building and recreational activities.
Chaarat has continued to be the leading member of a group of exploration and mining companies who commit resources to the upgrade of the main road in the Chatkal valley to improve the ability of the local population to trade the goods they produce and buy the products they need.
The road from Kurulush through the Chatkal valley to Chakmak-Suu is 90 km long and upgrading is completed at the rate of about 4km per year. The upgrade of a single kilometre of road costs approximately $120,000 and half the cost is paid by Chaarat. When the Chaarat Project is in production the Company will allocate 2% of its revenue to a local development fund which will also be used in part to upgrade the road.
The design of a new power line from Kristal sub-station to the Chatkal valley (a total of 128 km) has been approved by the authorities. The design was carried out and paid for by Chaarat. The new power line will improve significantly both the availability and reliability of power supply to the valley.
Education and skills building
Since 2008 Chaarat has supported qualifying students through higher education in mining sector related skills (principally geology and mine engineering). We pay for students’ tuition and provide a modest living allowance. The students work as trainees on site during the summer holidays on full pay. There are currently 12 students in the programme of whom four are women. In 2013 four students graduated.
In 2014 at the request of the Kanysh-Kiya Ayil Okmotu (Rural Council) we have offered placement opportunities to drill helpers trained at the local vocational schools. As a result of the placements, they will gain the necessary experience to seek employment with exploration companies.
The construction of a sports hall was a top priority for the local population. After two years of design, tendering, permitting and construction, the Bashky-Terek sports hall was inaugurated in 2013 with the local wrestling aficionados demonstrating their skills during the opening ceremony.
Winter has always presented a challenge for the mountain communities. Poor infrastructure and lack of transport increase the cost of supply of flour (for bread) and hay (animal feed) to exorbitant levels during the long winter months. Buying sufficient supplies in the summer is not an option so personal savings would be used to buy supplies during winter. For the last four years Chaarat has supported the local population by buying supplies in Bishkek, transporting them to the mountains and selling them on at cost. This support is much appreciated by the community.