Moanda, 70,000 inhabitants, has been producing manganese for 60 years. And all activities revolve around the exploitation of this mineral. But while waiting for these reserves to run out, Gabon and the Compagnie minière de l’Ogooué (Comilog) are already preparing the city for the post-manganese era.
From our correspondent,
Bernard Moulonda is a retired chief physician. Two years ago, he was elected mayor of his hometown of Moanda. Like all his citizens, Bernard Moulonda expects a lot from Comilog. This subsidiary of the French metallurgical group Eramet has been mining manganese in the open at Moanda’s heights since 1962.
“When we report on 60 years of manganese utilization, and when we have a company as large as Comilog, we also hope to have a city that is up to this dimension. Thank you for the initiatives; I think Moanda will not stay like the last 50 years for the next 50 years, he says.
An envelope of 5 to 6 billion FCFA
The Gabonese state and Comilog have in fact decided to devote part of the manganese revenues to local development. Given the current production, which is estimated at more than 4 million tonnes per year, an envelope of 5 to 6 billion FCFA will be available each year to finance development projects.
A few days ago, the company gathered the local people to jointly decide on the projects that would be financed over the next five years. “We want this societal investment to be focused on an alternative economy to mining. Because we must be able to develop other economic sectors around our mining activity. I’m talking about agriculture, animal husbandry; we can implement transformations so that we can live up to more people, says Leod Paul Batolo, CEO of Comilog.
After manganese, a difficult hypothesis
By increasing the local development plan, Comilogest’s ambition is to prepare Moanda for the time after manganese. A difficult hypothesis for the city, according to Jean Delor Biyogo, development economist: “Comilog is positioned as a key player. So we can not currently imagine Moanda without Comilog. The entire economy of the city revolves around its mining activity. ”
Nearly 60 years after the start of manganese exploitation in Gabon, people are realizing that, almost for the first time, their views are being sought for development projects that affect them.