On May 7, MAC awarded Vale’s Sudbury Operations in Ontario and IAMGOLD’s Essakane Gold Mine in Burkina Faso with the 2018 Towards Sustainable Mining® (TSM) Excellence Awards for their innovative sustainability projects. The companies were recognized with the awards yesterday at the CIM Awards Gala in Vancouver.
TSM Environmental Excellence Award- 2018 Winner and Finalists
Vale: Sudbury Biodiversity Program Restores Land and Waterways (2018 WINNER)
After more than a century of mining and logging activities, significant biodiversity initiatives are well underway at Vale’s Sudbury Operations. The goal is to return historically stressed lands and waterways back to their natural states. At root of the Sudbury Biodiversity Program’s success is Vale’s use of restorative processes that improve biodiversity. The program is also bolstered by input and involvement from stakeholders, communities and experts, including government, students and conservationists.
Through Vale’s aerial seeding program, the company has reclaimed 8,600 acres of land since 1990. Additionally, the company invests $250,000 and donates 50,000 tree seedlings annually to the City of Greater Sudbury’s Biodiversity Action Plan. Reclaiming tailings areas is also a top priority and Vale undertakes an innovative approach by using dewatered municipal biosolids that are blended with leaf and yard waste. In 2017, Vale reclaimed 40 acres with biosolids in its central tailings area with hay for dust suppression.
Vale is also working to improve biodiversity at its revegetated slag pile in Copper Cliff by planting milkweed seeds, which are grown at the company’s greenhouse with the help of local school children. Milkweed is the sole food source for monarch butterflies, a species in decline across North America. As the butterflies feed on the milkweed, they pollinate the wildflowers on the regreened slag pile, further enhancing biodiversity in the area. A few years ago, Vale also introduced bee colonies to its revegetated slag hills in Copper Cliff and later introduced them to its central tailings area. There are now more than 20 bee hives, which helps to restore declining bee populations in the area. The bees aid pollination, improve biodiversity and produce honey for visitors to Vale’s operations.
Vale’s Biodiversity Program also focuses on restoring local rivers and lakes and boosting their fish populations. Since 2011, Vale has raised rainbow trout and walleye and has released more than 100,000 fish into Ramsey Lake and the Onaping River.
Vale: A SLAM Dunk in Waste Management
SLAM Dunk is an innovative program at Vale’s Manitoba Operations with an ambitious goal of diverting 100% of waste materials from the landfill by adhering to the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle.
The SLAM Dunk program relies on employees, contractors and visitors to do their part in reducing waste at the mine site. The system involves segregating waste at the source into 13 streams, 10 of which are separated into colour-coded containers on-site. These bins are located throughout the facilities and, once full, are emptied into larger receptacles and then processed for reuse or proper disposal. This process eliminates the need to sort materials after collection, making waste management safer, faster and more cost effective. Some of the sorted materials have even generated revenue for Vale. Rebates from pallets, recycling and wet cell batteries have been reinvested into the SLAM Dunk program.
The program is an example of a simple, but highly effective way to reduce waste while promoting environmental awareness and living by the company’s values. When it launched in 2013, it had an immediate impact, diverting 50% of Vale’s waste from landfill. In 2017, this number grew to 76% across Vale’s Manitoba Operations. Another indicator of the program’s success is the level of waste segregation achieved by the various work sites. That is, how much of the waste is correctly placed into SLAM Dunk’s 13 different waste streams. In 2014, two Thompson work sites achieved 100% waste segregation, while three other sites achieved 90% segregation. In 2017, Vale’s Manitoba work sites achieved an average of 98% proper waste segregation. These are impressive figures that underscore employee ownership, and the fact that every person on the plant site is a member of the waste management team.
The SLAM Dunk Program can be easily replicated, and Vale staff promote it in the community. Vale has engaged youth to highlight the importance of waste management and to encourage them to find ways to reduce waste in their own lives. The learning has been reciprocal as green teams in schools have learned from SLAM Dunk, and Vale has learned from the participants.
Agnico Eagle: New Rail-Veyor System Delivers Environmental Benefits
In a recently expanded area of Agnico Eagle’s Goldex Mine in Quebec, an innovative Rail-Veyor system transports ore and, at the same time, generates significant environmental benefits for the mine. Operated remotely, the Rail-Veyor system, produced by a Canadian company, consists of six trains powered by 90 electric drive-stations along the rail. A total of 408 two-wheeled cars move the ore on light tracks that have been installed 730 to 1,200 metres underground.
The Goldex Mine was the first in North America to deploy the Rail-Veyor system in active industrial settings. Fortunately, this forward-thinking has paid off. Thanks to the Rail-Veyor system, the mine was able to restrict its mobile, diesel-powered heavy equipment fleet to just four trucks in the Deep Zone. Without it, it would have required 14. As with the wider industry, diesel is one of the main sources of GHG emissions at the Goldex Mine. Through this Rail-Veyor system, the mine is significantly reducing its GHG emissions by having 10 fewer trucks in operation. Without it, the added trucks would have driven up the mine’s diesel consumption by almost 40% in high production years. Agnico Eagle’s successful deployment of this technology has challenged the generally accepted rule that deepening an underground mine leads to an increase in fuel consumption.
The innovation has also created a safer working environment by considerably reducing noise, dust, carbon monoxide and other emissions. Having fewer underground trucks also reduces the risk of accidents. While the Rail-Veyor system has increased electricity consumption by about 5% annually, it has also reduced the need for ventilation as less heat and fewer contaminants are generated in comparison to trucks.
From the start, employees were consulted on the technology. Now in operation, it is proving to be a popular attraction for visitors, including residents and organizations.
TSM Community Engagement Excellence Award – 2018 Winner and Finalists
IAMGOLD: Scrap Metal Program Supports Women Entrepreneurs (2018 WINNER)
In Burkina Faso where IAMGOLD’s Essakane Mine is located, the company has long supported local economic development. One of the ways it does this is by giving the mine’s scrap metal a second life through the ingenuity and initiative of local entrepreneurs. The program, known as “Fonds Fer” or “Iron Fund”, involves the mine selling its leftover scrap metal at auction and then using the revenues to fund local business ideas. The program has evolved through community input to ensure it meets local needs.
A good case study of the program’s success is a peanut butter production unit run by a group of 11 local women. It is one of 34 projects this fund has supported. In Burkina Faso, peanut butter is a staple ingredient in many meals. It is traditionally produced manually by women and requires a lot of time and physical strength. This unit, the first in the region, produces high-quality and affordable peanut butter, directly serving the needs of residents and local businesses.
The unit stores the raw material and finished product and houses the electric-powered mill and generator. The use of a mill has several advantages over the traditional method of producing peanut butter. It improves the product’s quality, increases its quantity and dramatically cuts down the time it takes to produce it. Additionally, the unit is powered by electricity, whereas the artisanal method uses wood as its energy source, which contributes to the overcutting of forests and accelerates desertification.
The unit’s main customers are households and restaurants, but the mine will soon be added to its client roster. With the business poised to grow, the association is planning to hire more people, both to process the peanut butter and to distribute it. This processing unit is a major advancement in agricultural product processing and can serve as a platform for products beyond peanut butter. Its success in revenue and job creation serves as a benchmark for other entrepreneurs. In fact, it has already inspired other women’s associations in the area to submit their business ideas.
New Gold: Closure Plan Prioritizes Community Needs
After more than two decades of planning, constructing and operating, New Gold’s Cerro San Pedro Mine in Mexico initiated closure in 2016. However, the mine’s Integrated Closure Plan was launched years before that to help workers and local communities plan for a transition to a post-mining economy.
The mine is located within the municipality of Cerro de San Pedro, with a population of about 5,000 people. The mine employed a collaborative approach so that community members and employees had a voice in the plan’s development and implementation. The objective was to ensure the mine’s legacy was a positive one concerning the environment and the sustainability of the 13 communities surrounding the mine.
The plan’s measures go beyond regulatory requirements and focus on several core areas: helping community members and workers find new employment opportunities, improving the region’s prospects for economic development, and restoring and protecting the environment.
The closure plan launched the Entrepreneurial Development Program, which is focused on diversifying the region’s economy. This multi-stakeholder, community-driven program has generated a wave of entrepreneurship and helped create several new small businesses. The mine also partnered with local communities, training institutions and government agencies to deliver other valuable types of training, such as budgeting and financial planning, computer skills, and certification programs in various trades. In 2016, these training programs offered a total of 520 seats, of which 84% were occupied by local women.
As infrastructure is often key to economic development, New Gold invested in important community infrastructure. This included roads, power lines, potable water facilities, schools, clinics, and more. The company also invested in the rehabilitation and restoration of historical buildings in the municipality.
At the mine site, the Integrated Closure Plan included significant commitments to restore and protect the environment. For example, nearly 400 hectares of land were reforested with local plant species with assistance from community volunteers. The mine also dismantled mine infrastructure and instituted long-term monitoring of the site.
Vale: Sudbury Alerts Program Supports Community Safety
The City of Greater Sudbury, with a population of 150,000, has grown up around Vale’s facilities over more than 100 years of operation. Vale’s Sudbury Operations currently include five operating mines, a mill, a smelter, a nickel refinery and a large tailings facility. In early 2017, Vale funded and launched Sudbury Alerts in partnership with the City, which has greatly improved the region’s emergency preparedness.
The mass public notification service enables Vale and the City to instantly send safety messages to the public, regardless of whether the emergency is associated with Vale’s operations. Sudbury Alerts is fully integrated into the local 911 command centre and communications network.
It took considerable community and stakeholder involvement to develop and implement Sudbury Alerts. Vale worked closely with Greater Sudbury’s emergency services, utilities and health unit, as well as another local mining company, Glencore. To prepare for its launch, Sudbury Alerts was pre-loaded with 60,000 white page listings. A comprehensive campaign was also undertaken to make residents aware of the service and to encourage them to sign up. During Emergency Preparedness Week, Vale hosted an open house to promote the new service and to show residents how Vale responsibly mitigates hazards associated with its operations.
Residents can register multiple phone numbers and methods of contact. They can also specify locations where they would like to receive notifications such as at home, at work, their child’s school, and more. The benefits of Sudbury Alerts were clearly felt during its first use in November 2017 during a gas leak emergency at a local shopping mall. The building was quickly evacuated and residents across the city were instructed to stay out of the affected area.