Stratex’s CSR Offering Is Simple And To The Point
“We do our CSR on a project by project basis”, says Stratex International’s Bob Foster. And for a company like Stratex, which is all about generating new mining projects at the grass roots, that’s really the only way to go.
Project generation as a business model has worked for Stratex pretty well so far, and the company is beginning to build up an enviable reputation as an expert explorer, both in Africa, where it has investigated gold projects from Eritrea, Djibouti and Ethiopia in the east, to Tanzania further south, to Liberia, Senegal and Ghana out to the west.
Stratex has shown that it’s not afraid to move on from exploration properties that don’t make the grade, but also that it’s quite capable of hitting paydirt too.
But things can move pretty fast, and with that sort of model the CSR that goes with the work on the ground has to be flexible to.
“Thus”, says Bob, “an allocated percentage of our exploration funds in Senegal go into social projects. And when we were in Liberia we supported communities local to our projects with food.” The CSR was relatively small sale, but it was happening in real time and was very visible to the locals.
“When Ebola came we supported our local community in Liberia with cash, and we got official recognition and a certificate of thanks from the government”, adds Bob. “In Ethiopia, which we no longer have an interest in, we provided food and medical supplies to the local communities in the Rift Valley.”
And that’s a pattern that’s set to continue wherever Stratex goes. “If you establish base camps there is a general expectation that we live up to that we’ll support local communities”, says Bob.
The company always anticipates using local people, he adds. That’s a policy widely followed by Western companies these days, differentiating them from their Chinese peers which have often shown a preference for shipping in cheap labour from back home.
That’s all very well from an economic perspective, but doesn’t always sit so well socially. Thus in Zambia, the Chinese presence on the ground has in the past been a major election issue, while in West Africa some imported Chinese labour has gone on to establish illegal mining operations, much to the chagrin of authorities and locals alike.
Stratex’s modus operandi is unlikely ever to result in such cultural misunderstandings. The company is fleet of foot and light of touch.
At least for now it is. The plan is to grow the company significantly once first gold production commences from Turkey later in the current quarter, to add further production in due course and really to gain critical mass as a producer. A bigger entity might well require a bigger CSR footprint. All good things come, as they say, to those who wait.