In addition to compliance with national mining and environmental legislation, Chaarat is committed to meeting the expectations of good international industry practice, including recommendations set out by the IFC Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability.
During 2015 a visit was organised to the Çöpler mine in Turkey which gave 17 residents of the Chatkal valley the opportunity to see a heap leach operation and address their concerns to the mine personnel. This visit, together with other information and meetings held with the local communities, resulted in a decision at the public hearings to permit development of the Chaarat deposit.
Every year Chaarat Zaav’s Deputy Director, Turat Usubaliev, agrees a “social package” of support with the local communities near the Chaarat deposit (the closest community is 20km from the site). He does this through the Community Consultation Group (CCG) we established in 2013 which ensures participation from all sections of the communities, including the heads of the two local councils or “Keneshes” as they are known.
The objectives of the CCG are based on two principles:
- 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 the greatest benefit of the majority of the population
Chaarat has also demonstrated its commitment to regional development by moving its taxpayer location from Bishkek to Kanysh Kya, the capital of the Chatkal District. Chaarat is now the largest single contributor to the district budget.
Community Liaison Officers (CLO) employed by Chaarat ensure consistent and on-going communication with communities, NGOs and other interested organisations and individuals.
A grievance mechanism enables the the local community to communicate complaints and questions through a logbook kept in their local settlement office. The CLOs, as well as resolving identified issues, are also responsible for informing the local community about the activities of Chaarat so maintaining our licence to operate for the Tulkubash Project. We are always mindful of the need to ensure the appropriate level of health and safety, as well as taking all precautions for the protection of the environment, and at the same time respecting local culture.
The investment principles of the CCG are:
- Maximising the number of people who benefit from the project
- Establishing the potential of the project to become self-sustaining when support ends
- Ability to monitor and report on the impact of the project
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. Chaarat strongly encourages projects that fit with existing socio-economic development strategies and that build on initiatives which are already underway.
The Memorandum signed in 2017 between Chaarat Zaav and the Chatkal district state administration was aimed at improving the skills of the local population as well as the renovation and improvement of the local infrastructure. Letters of gratitude were received from the Chatkal Akim and the Head of the Kanysh-Kia Rural Council in appreciation for the support and social aid provided to the local government and the residents.
We make provision for gifts to children and elderly residents at holidays and local celebrations.
Transport & Infrastructure
The Chaarat deposit is approximately 320km south west of the capital, Bishkek. From Bishkek the property is accessed via a combination of 520km of paved and unpaved roads. During the winter an alternative route provides almost year round access at a distance of 760km from Bishkek. The remoteness of the location means that transport and infrastructure are high priorities for the local communities.
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.
Chaarat has contributed to the construction of a suspension bridge, purchased a vehicle for the use of the local council and provided fuel and lubricants for the equipment clearing the Karabuura pass.
Education and skills building
Chaarat have a comprehensive Human Resources policy in place favouring local recruitment from the settlements in the Chatkal Valley, including those within Chatkal and Kanysh-Kiya Village Districts. However, as some mining project specialist staff will be recruited based on capability and experience, this may require Chaarat to source some employees from a wider area, including outside the district.
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.
In 2014 at the request of the Kanysh-Kiya Ayil Okmotu (Rural Council) we offered placement opportunities to drill helpers trained at the local vocational schools to enable them to gain the necessary experience to seek employment with exploration companies.
We sponsor medical students since there continues to be a shortage of doctors and medical facilities in rural communities. The Kanysh Kia and Chatkal rural councils requested our help for the provision of medical treatment to residents which we were glad to provide.
Chaarat set up small wholesale shops in Kanysh-Kiya and Jany-Bazar villages which provide local residents with groceries at Bishkek prices. This is particularly appreciated during the winter when the cost of food and hay can increase due to the problems of transport. We also assisted with the distribution of a local newspaper – Chatkal Ottoru.
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. We have provided a wrestling coach as well as purchasing equipment and sponsoring regional sporting events and tournaments.