In some parts of the world mineral exploration and the mining industry, in general, has had a negative reputation and is seen to be a cause of environmental degradation. Since exploration has a much smaller impact on the local environments than does mining and producing, Corazon believes that these initial phases of a project should establish a strong bond with a community and internal environmental practices and policies to ensure that environmentally responsible approaches are carried out through extraction, production and rehabilitation of the mine site.
Sustainable exploration practices require a holistic approach in handling the complexities of environmental issues. Through providing safer drinking water and reforesting flood hazardous areas, workers of the site are healthier, more productive and safer, which prevent disruptions to progress. These measures come at a low capital cost and result in high impact effects within the communities we operate. Corazon, therefore, becomes a positive force for the local community, while collectively providing a strong and stable investment for investors.
Leading by Example
At our Santo Domingo project, Corazon collaborated with The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) on how to feasibly preserve the beauty and health of the area. MARENA is the government ministry in Nicaragua that is responsible for the conservation, protection and sustainable use of its natural resources and the environment.
In collaboration with CONMAS, which is a local community group of representatives from various sectors in Santo Domingo, Corazon set up a tree nursery program to aid in reforestation of derogated and flood hazardous areas. The development of an Environmental Baseline Study was conducted to monitor the effects of the exploration practices on the local flora and fauna.
The reforestation plan included:
Cleaning of the Artiwas River & village of Santo Domingo
- the establishment of nurseries
- location of areas for reforestation
- sophisticated planting and monitoring methods
- partnerships to ensure ongoing maintenance of the project
Upon arriving at the site, we observed the low sanitation levels throughout the town. The main source of fresh water, the Artiwas River, was being used as both a waste disposal system and a source of household water.
Extensive water testing revealed high levels of bacteria and heavy metals. With support from the environmental unit of the municipal mayors office, the Ministry of Health and Corazon, a project plan was put in place to both clean up the site and provide awareness on sanitation and clean drinking water. This project was initiated the first week of April 2011.
These efforts included:
New Sources of drinking water
- the cleaning of culverts, bridges and riverbanks
- sweeping the city dump and garbage collection
In collaboration with the clean up of the river, finding stable and uncontaminated sources of drinking water become a major priority. Field visits by environmental professionals were carried out in order to locate new possible sources of drinking water with consistent flow. Areas were identified and have become part of municipally owned land as a Greenfield area of the community. This secured a safe drinking water sources for Santo Domingo.
The most effective way to ensure that environmental measures are consistent and ongoing is education and awareness. The environmental education project started with a radio campaign through Radio El Ayote and Radio Centro from Juigalpa, which are popular stations in the municipality of Santo Domingo.
This campaign included:
- educating the locals on the current projects
- asking for cooperation in the cleanup of the river and town
- avoidance of any further contamination
- intriguing ads to promote conservation of natural resources
- explanations of social and environmental projects Corazon is supporting
Together with these activities an initiative with students, as part of their school curriculum, was established that required them to perform tasks at the nursery.