BMSC is committed to environmental stewardship, we take active measures to protect at-risk species and implement reclamation and conservation efforts to preserve local ecosystems and species potentially impacted by our operations. Our current mining concession is 46.5 km2 along with an 814 km2 exploration license area that was substantially increased in 20162. These areas include a variety of habitats. In general, habitats of higher biodiversity near the mine site are riparian forests associated with the ephemeral waterways or wadis; there are no protected areas near the mine. The nearest protected area is the Gash Setit wildlife reserve, 85 km SE of Bisha mine and in another water catchment basin. It is worth noting that a section of the Barka River, not currently protected under Eritrean law, has been identified by BirdLife International as important and lies approximately 4 km north of the mine lease area.
BMSC’s main biodiversity impact is land clearing (vegetation and topsoil) for mine development and diversion of the Freketetet River to develop the open pit; appropriate permits were granted as part of the impact assessment process. The clearing has produced habitat loss, however rehabilitation work indicates that biodiversity can be significantly restored as gazelles, ostriches, warthogs, jackals, hyenas, hares, birds and snakes have been sighted in our rehabilitated areas and signs of burrowing animals (i.e. aardvarks) are also evident. BMSC is undertaking biodiversity offset tree planting with species endemic to the area.
Along with the 6 vulnerable species identified by the IUCN, the Eritrea Forestry and Wildlife Conservation and Development Proclamation Number 155/2006 lists endangered botanical species in the area.
The Biodiversity Management Plan was completed in 2016 and covers the area immediately impacted by mine activities; it includes measures already implemented and proposed. The most important measures to date include biodiversity offset plantings and rehabilitation efforts. Other current activities include investigating on site road kills, limiting and monitoring vehicle speeds, reducing encounters between mine personnel and wildlife, awareness bulletins, water and dust monitoring, top soil stripping and stockpiling, and fencing to prevent animals accessing the TMF and other areas of risk. BMSC reviews any request for land clearance; these are not automatically approved by the Environmental department personnel and the higher barrier to new land clearance has resulted in improved utilization of already cleared areas.