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Earth Institute Research Projects

Community-Based Environmental Impact Tracking for Bauxite Mining in Guinea

Lead PI: Lynnette Widder
January 2020 - December 2021
Active
Africa ; Guinea
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: Guinea has the world's largest bauxite deposits. Much of its rural population is employed in agriculture and fisheries, both of which are disrupted in mining regions by mining-produced dust. We seek to reduce these impacts with better enforcement of existing regulations using remote sensing, field evidence submitted by affected communities via smartphones, and a legal review of best practices.

Satellite imagery can track mining dust but currently cannot be accessed in the field by communities or compliance officers. The proposed project addresses this problem through three components: educational, legal and technical.

Educational: engage EI research assistants and two SUMA capstones; collaborate with the Center for Environmental Studies Gamal Abdel Nassar University of Conakry;

Legal: review current environmental legislation, analyze enforcement and review best practices, propose how technical innovation can improve compliance.

Technical: prototype and refine a two-way system, comprising downloadable remote sensing and uploadable local inputs, to facilitate community participation and compliance enforcement.

The project's ultimate goal is to support vastly improved conditions for the assessment of bauxite mining-related environmental impact and for the enforcement of environmental legislation in Guinea's Boke region, where the majority of mining concessions are being developed and where UNDP Guinea has identified pilot study communities at greatest risk of civil unrest from environmental degradation. The technology has potential applicability throughout Guinea's mining regions and beyond.