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Discovering new depths: My work experience at Levin Sources

Discovering new depths: My work experience at Levin Sources

September 16, 2019, by Grania Cooke

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My summer work experience at Levin Sources has been an enlightening experience. I started with only basic knowledge of the mining industry, supply chains and mining practices without knowing how they fit together. Now, the picture is a lot clearer.

I began my work experience in the middle of July, and was swiftly put to task on supporting research for several projects in the Levin Sources pipeline. Each task was thoughtfully allocated to me so that I could see and experience as many facets of this consultancy as was possible in a short time. My colleagues welcomed me generously, answering my questions with patience, and steering my focus towards articles, online databases, and tools that might help me in my research. My positive experience at Levin Sources is credited to the inclusive office atmosphere and the helpful character of my colleagues.

Exploring consultancy work

Some tasks seemed a little out of my depth at first, and the prospect of wading through pages of acronyms was a little daunting. Thankfully, within the comprehensive Employee Handbook there is an index of all the relevant acronyms, and I soon found myself tuning into the terminology. In assisting the team, I helped edit and format RCMs, EOIs, responding to TORs from groups with ‘names’ like APGRP, BMGR, DMNI, AVP, ALM, representing a good proportion of key stakeholders in the mining industry. In carrying out these processes, I became aware of the undercurrent of uncertainty that is part of working at a consultancy firm. The team work relentlessly, constantly striving to stay on top of the pile so they can win that contract, so they may effect change towards a fairer and more sustainable extractives industry.

Work experience Levin Sources
Grania and part of the team on her last day at Levin Sources
This work experience allowed me to see the role consultancy firms play in solving the world’s problems. Levin Sources contributes to and leads sustainable changes in the mining industry globally. They are answering the problem presented bya destructive extractive industry, lacking in formalised structures that leave space for ignoble exploitation, with workable solutions. The obstacles to this work range from the political, to the logistical,to the willingness of stakeholders. My colleagues described this uncertainty as the “swings and roundabouts” of consultancy; where the falls propel them forward to the next obstacle, and eventually, victory. The company greatly values the individuals they work with and for, and this is demonstrated in their focus on their local stakeholders and the high level of care they put into their baseline research for their projects.

Wide-ranging research to understand impact

One of my tasks was to support research which contributes to the development of a concept for the establishment of a responsible gold supply chain in West Africa. In this project, I was told to focus not only on key legislation and the fiscal regimes of West African states, but also to pay attention to the social landscape of the region, the driving factors for miners, the history of the illicit mineral trade in the region and so on. At Levin Sources, there is a clear understanding of the political and social dynamics on the ground before they propose a solution, and this may not meet the specific requests of the client. As an anthropologist, I greatly appreciate this approach, and I know Levin Sources’ stakeholders and clients do as well.

The mining sector touches the lives of many, including those affected by child labour and environmental destruction. Artisanal Small Mining is widely criticised, for reasons ranging from the lack of infrastructure surrounding it, the lack of support from states, a dearth of proper enforcement of legislation, and criminal exploitation of those who are left unprotected. However, when carried out responsibly and sustainably, the profitability of ASM mining can provide profits back into the community. I have been inspired by the time I have spent working alongside the team at Levin Sources to collaborate with organisations around the world, and assist ASM mining communities.

I feel very grateful to have had this opportunity to be a part of this team for a short time, and I aim to continue to work for companies with similar values and impacts in the future.

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