On May 1, MAC awarded Dominion Diamond Corporation’s Ekati Diamond Mine and Vale Newfoundland and Labrador Limited’s Voisey’s Bay Mine with the 2017 Towards Sustainable Mining® (TSM) Excellence Awards for their innovative sustainability projects. Dominion Diamond and Vale were recognized with the awards at the CIM Awards Gala in Montreal.
TSM Community Engagement Excellence Award – 2017 Winner and Finalists
Vale: Shipping Program Recognizes Inuit Connection to the Land-Fast Sea Ice (2017 WINNER)
The Innu and Inuit on the North Coast of Labrador have a deep cultural connection to the land-fast sea ice. During winter, the ice serves as a transportation route for harvesting and to access other coastal communities. Vale’s Voisey’s Bay mine and concentrator operation, which is located in the region, uses Anaktalak Bay shipping route to ship its products and to resupply the site. Top priorities for both the company and the local communities are to ensure shipping has minimal interference with Aboriginal traditional lifestyles and that residents can safely cross the ship’s track. For more than a decade, Vale and local communities and stakeholders have collaborated to achieve these goals, resulting in new and innovative approaches and technologies.
Years before Voisey’s Bay became operational, Vale and the Labrador Inuit Association (now the Nunatsiavut Government) developed a Shipping Agreement, incorporating Inuit traditional knowledge and requiring Inuit involvement to implement. The Winter Shipping Program launched in 2005 when Voisey’s Bay became operational. In 2007, Vale evaluated the program and, based on feedback from the local communities, worked to reduce the time it took to get safely across the ship’s track. Vale worked with Sikumiut Environmental Management, a local Inuit company that had been monitoring and supporting the winter shipping program for Vale, to develop a floating pontoon-type bridge. A prototype was successfully tested and a full system was implemented in 2008. The pontoon bridges are deployed across the ship’s fresh track at key locations along the 40-kilometre shipping route. Reflective markers and signage are added along the route to ensure safe crossing. When the track freezes, additional “ice bridges” are established at other locations. Once safe crossing locations are established, a multi-faceted communications system alerts residents of their locations as well as shipping activity.
Community input has been paramount to the program’s success and is also reflected in other aspects of the agreement. For example, there are two six-week closure periods when shipping cannot take place: in the fall when ice is forming and in the spring when ice is breaking up. Closure periods have also been adjusted to reflect weather conditions and public holidays.
Glencore: Attracting and Advancing Inuit Talent
Located in the Nunavik territory of Northern Quebec, Glencore’s Raglan Mine has prioritized hiring as many local Inuit employees as possible. In 2008, Glencore launched the Tamatumani program, a skills development initiative that has contributed to the training and hiring of hundreds of Nunavimmiut. Today, 176 Inuit employees work at Raglan Mine, representing around 20% of the operation’s workforce, and the mine has become one of the largest employers in the territory.
Raglan Mine developed the Tamatumani program with several community partners, including the Kativik Regional Government and the Kativik School Board, and they continue to monitor its evolution. This collaboration helps to ensure that the program addresses the needs and realities of the local communities. A major barrier to employment is the low education rate in the region. In the years before the program launched, 94% of all Inuit high school students dropped out before graduation. The Tamatumani program, which means “second start” in Inuktitut, fills a critical gap.
Today, Tamatumani offers a diverse range of programs. There is an essential skills program, which includes French and English courses, a transition-to-work program and applied technical training for various positions. There is also a two-year apprenticeship program called the Stope School, whereby Inuit employees are trained to become underground miners. In 2013, the Raglan Mine created the RIDE (Rapid Inuit Development and Employment) program to accelerate internal mobility for high-potential employees. In 2014, the mine introduced cultural awareness training, with the help of the Avataq Cultural Institute, to promote cultural sensitivity and communication amongst all employees.
Working with local employment offices in the Nunavik communities, Tamatumani maintains a bank of candidates and visits communities to ensure residents are aware of available positions. All parties are working with the same goal: seeing as many Nunavimmiut employees in various positions as possible at Raglan Mine.
IAMGOLD: Supporting Vulnerable Households
Burkina Faso’s Sahel region, where IAMGOLD’s Essakane Gold Mine is located, has a long dry season and a short rainy season. The climate makes food production challenging and is one reason why four out of every 10 households live below the poverty line. Since 2008, IAMGOLD has provided food support to those in need living near the mine. Initially, the program focused on 1,000 vulnerable individuals, including the elderly, persons with disabilities, and women who were the heads of their households. Upon evaluating the program, however, IAMGOLD shifted the focus of its support towards households as a means to generate longer-term benefits for both vulnerable individuals and their families.
In 2015, IAMGOLD engaged community leaders and NGO, A2N, to develop poverty indicators to help identify the households that would benefit most from the support. This also informed the types of support that would be provided, with the aim of battling poverty and increasing food security over the long term. Their input led to IAMGOLD supplying 258 vulnerable households with the following supports: two goats and veterinary care for the animals, two bags of agro-industrial goods and two 100-kilogram bags of millet. Goat husbandry was selected as the animals are well adapted to the Sahel region and can reproduce quickly. Food support was also added to help prevent the households from selling the goats during hungry gaps and to enable them to maintain an inventory of grain for their food supply.
IAMGOLD and the communities regularly review the program and recent data has shown that the number of vulnerable households has declined by 50%. The program, therefore, has been instrumental in helping these families escape poverty, improve food security and increase their social stature within their communities. The number of daily meals per household is up from two to three, increasing both in quantity and quality. Additionally, more than 140 goats have been born, giving children access to nutritious goat milk.
TSM Environmental Excellence Award – 2017 Winner and Finalists
Dominion Diamond: Transforming Waste Management (2017 WINNER)
Dominion Diamond Corporation purchased the Ekati Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories in 2013. Since that time, the company has worked to transform how waste is managed at the site to improve sustainability and limit environmental impacts. Various actions throughout the years have significantly reduced the mine’s waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and have inspired communities and other mining companies in the region to follow Dominion’s lead.
In 2013, Dominion started purchasing environmentally-friendly products for the mine, such as corn-oil based garbage bags, sugarcane take-out containers, and compostable disposable utensils to reduce the amount of chlorine-rich plastics in the waste incinerator. The company then restricted incineration to paper and organic waste and launched a two-year educational campaign for all staff on waste management and segregation. Items such as oily rags, glass, plastics, cans, and other recyclables are removed from the mine site and sent for recycling or proper disposal. These actions have prevented nearly 75,000 kilograms of plastics and 193,000 kilograms of oily rags from being incinerated, reducing emissions from the mine’s two incinerators into the environment and keeping them well below federal guidelines.
In 2015, Dominion installed an in-vessel composter—the first mine in Canada’s North to do so. Now, roughly half of organic waste generated at the Ekati mine is composted. By the end of 2016, more than 67,000 kilograms of organic waste has been diverted, reducing GHG emissions by 210 tonnes CO2 equivalent and diesel consumption by 74,000 litres. Thanks to the in-vessel composter, Dominion is often able to shut down one or both incinerators entirely, which has decreased scrubber water consumption by an estimated 25%.
More recently, in 2016, Dominion launched a study to evaluate the use of site-generated compost in reclamation work as a means of adding nutrients to the processed kimberlite and to promote vegetation growth. If the study shows positive results, it will create a new opportunity to transform site-generated waste into a powerful tool in reclamation.
IAMGOLD: Generating Powerful Community Benefits through Solar Energy
The Brokopondo region in Suriname, where IAMGOLD’s Rosebel Gold Mine is located, has often faced power shortages due to an overburdened electricity grid. IAMGOLD saw an opportunity to harness the sun to help power the mine and to support nearby communities. In 2014, the company worked alongside five communities and a local workforce of 150 people to construct a large-scale 5 megawatt solar energy farm—the first in Suriname. The project has returned a significant amount of power to the national grid, has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and has inspired IAMGOLD to invest in solar-powered community projects to enhance the quality of life for those living in neighbouring communities.
In 2015, IAMGOLD and community partners opened a solar-powered multi-functional classroom, which is run by the community of Nieuw Koffiekamp. The classroom is equipped with computers, wireless internet and a library. A digital learning program was also launched to improve local students’ access to education. A few months after the classroom opened, IAMGOLD introduced a computer course, which is offered to the broader community. To date, 26 men and women have successfully completed the course, which includes training on the Internet and Microsoft programs.
The community of Galibi, an indigenous village accessible only by boat, has also benefitted from IAMGOLD’s investments and expertise in solar power. The community approached IAMGOLD to help them overcome the significant challenges it was facing in accessing reliable power. The village’s central generator had become increasingly unreliable, leaving most residents without access to electricity for extended periods. IAMGOLD stepped in and financed the construction of a solar project in 2015, which was handed over to the community in November 2016. The new solar-powered system provides electricity to the heart of the village, powering classrooms, a health clinic and other critical buildings.
Cameco: Improving Environmental Protection through Education
Cameco’s Key Lake Operation employs 600 people and approximately half of the workforce is from northern Saskatchewan. In 2011, the operation found that there were a number of environmental events that took place that were the result of complacent behaviour and were, therefore, preventable. Staff immediately took action and launched the Key Lake Environmental Awareness Week in 2012 for all site employees. Over the years, it has not only increased workers’ knowledge of environmental protection, but it has significantly reduced environmental incidents. It has also been recognized across the company and by northern Saskatchewan communities as best practice and effective at encouraging people to be good stewards of the environment.
Activities during the annual Key Lake Environmental Awareness Week are designed to be fun and informative. Throughout the week, there are interactive demonstrations as well as classroom sessions that feature presentations and hands-on activities that enable employees to learn and apply the information. Every day, staff are sent environmental tips and stories and environmentally-themed movies are played in the theatre each night. All activities are designed to communicate technical information to an often non-technical audience in an engaging and easy to understand way.
The initiative has enabled Key Lake to reach its environmental goals by targeting the root issues behind the incidents and by instilling an environmentally passionate and caring culture at site. It has also inspired changes to how Cameco staff communicate with stakeholders during the company’s annual Northern Saskatchewan Community Tour to make it more interactive and engaging. In 2015, Cameco employed an interactive “science fair” approach during its tour of five northern communities. This enabled Key Lake staff to connect with community members, including youth and elders, on uranium mining information in ways that were meaningful to them. Based on the project’s success, Cameco is planning to adopt similar awareness weeks at other sites.
IAMGOLD: Progressive Reclamation of Mined Areas
Reclaiming areas used for mining activity is not only a legal requirement, but it is one important way that companies demonstrate their commitments to sustainability and to the communities where they operate. The objective is to restore the land to a state as close as possible to before the mining activity took place and return it to the community upon closure.
IAMGOLD launched a progressive mining rehabilitation initiative at its Essakane Mine in Burkina Faso in 2014. Several pilot projects were launched, including the rehabilitation of the mine’s Off-Channel Reservoir waste rock pile. The artificial hill, nearly nine hectares in size, was composed of excavation material that was generated from the construction of water retention ponds that supply the mine. The rehabilitation work included making the slopes less steep, building channels to reduce water run off, and revegetating the area.
More than 10,000 plants of various woody species were planted and close to 16,000 feet of herbaceous plants were installed in horizontal bands. With 30% of the plants being protected species, this project helped reintroduce species that had almost disappeared from the area prior to the development of the mine. IAMGOLD’s use of native species and efforts to reduce water runoff will both help to overcome the Sahel region’s arid climate. Not only has the initiative sought to conserve and improve the biodiversity of flora and fauna in the area, but it has also addressed the community’s concerns over a lack of animal feed. The site now provides pastureland potential for animal husbandry, which could improve the food and financial resources of the nearby communities.
Stakeholder involvement in the project was instrumental to its success. From the outset, the community, government and development organizations were consulted and encouraged the project’s implementation. The trees planted on the site were produced in the village nursery, which was tended entirely by women, with assistance from mine staff. Moreover, young people from the village worked for nearly 90 days on the site during the plantation.