Welcomed by local people and groups of traditional dancers waiting in the scorching hot sunshine, the presidential helicopter touched down at 10:45am on the red earth of the Moanda highlands. The Head of State was joined for the ceremony - the first event in the celebrations for Comilog's fiftieth anniversary - by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Industry and Mines, the Governor of the province, parliamentarians, the French Ambassador and representatives from cooperation agencies.
Set up as an applied learning school for the region designed to produce senior technicians and engineers, the EMMM will start recruiting in September 2015 to take students having already completed 2 years of higher education to a professional bachelor's degree/advanced technician diploma and to take students with 4 years of studies behind them to a professional master's degree/engineering qualification, in a variety of specialities ranging from geology to mineral processing and hydrometallurgy to pyrometallurgy. The first intake of technicians will graduate late 2016 while the first intake of engineers will graduate in June 2017.
This project, designed by Maïssa-Architectures in Libreville, is currently only a model situated in the midst of ore deposits, entirely transparent, with clean oblique cuts, crossed with curtain walls with wood frames. This creation was designed with the surrounding forest in mind, with curves to drain away the rainwater and clear the interior spaces naturally ventilated by plenums that trap hot air.
The Moanda School of Mining and Metallurgy is an important project that fits into the "Emerging Gabon" policy initiated by President Ali Bongo Ondimba and responds to the desire of the Gabonese authorities to develop national skills in a mining sector that is set to grow. In 2011, the President of the Republic had underlined the importance of Gabon becoming "a hub for the metal industry with a network of SMEs/SMIs" by 2020. The EMMM campus will benefit from the expertise of the Mining Hub in Nancy, which will lead a consortium consisting of the Nancy National School of Geology, the Mining Schools of Nancy, Paris and Alès, and the Universities of Lorraine and Montpellier II.
As stated by the Minister of Industry and Mines, Regis Immongault Tatangani, during his speech: "the future lies in processing ore in Gabon in order to develop a value chain around a cluster of local subcontractors." And addressing Comilog: "Moanda will play host to a highly-competitive hub combining extraction technologies, financial engineering and cognitive space. For this, we need responsible corporations that respect our social and environmental laws."
Addressing President Bongo Ondimba, the CEO of the French group Eramet-Comilog, Patrick Buffet, stressed the need to continue the "work and spirit of the founders" of the work to develop the manganese deposit in Moanda exactly fifty years ago. "Comilog - which remains one of the largest employers in the country - is evolving and is looking more than ever to the future alongside this exceptional school and the Moanda Metallurgical Complex (C2M)", which Ali Bongo Ondimba was also able to visit the same day. By the end of 2013, this 50 ha site, run by 400 workstations, will produce some 65,000 tonnes of silico-manganese and 20,000 tonnes of manganese metal, fulfilling the dream of the late President Omar Bongo Ondimba to develop raw materials locally. Objective: make Comilog a "Gabonese world leader".