Environmental stewardship refers to efforts made to protect the environment, and to identify and mitigate the potential environmental repercussions of a company’s activities. Negative impacts on the natural environment can result in a variety of adverse risks, especially for local communities who might rely on the land for their livelihood. By employing environmentally-conscious CSR practices, companies can limit the negative environmental impacts of their operations and, in some cases, can even create positive ones. Below are some examples of how Canadian mining and exploration companies have managed environmental concerns and risks in the vicinity of their projects:
Responses by Company
Agnico Eagle Mines Limited
The company encourages environmental stewardship through risk assessments at the project site and maintaining a risk register. We implement action plans for high and very high risks.
American Potash Corp.
The company has an independent consultant that has assumed a role as compliance officer.
American Vanadium Corp.
The company has a comprehensive permitting program that analyzes the proposed project relative to the concerns of the stakeholders and all potential environmental impacts. The project design identifies potential environmental impacts and minimizes the impacts to the extent practicable.
Angkor Gold Corp.
We use the IFC Environmental standards as a guide. We also use Canadian national standards to assist in Cambodia as the government has requested our input into newly written Environmental laws for Cambodia.
The company sets an example of environmental stewardship at our office, in the camps, and on our year-round operations (e.g. garbage collection, sorting of compostable materials, recycle plastics, low-impact latrines at fly camps). The company also instructs artisanal miners on safer smelting procedures and run-off water from sluice operations.
AuRico Gold Inc.
The company subscribes to/implements the ISO 14001: Environmental Management System, ISO 26000: 2010: Guidance on Social Responsibility, the Carbon Disclosure Project, and the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (Version 3.1).
Within the DRC, Banro is subject to a comprehensive set of national regulations with respect to environmental management. These are set out in the 2002 DRC Mining Code and associated regulations, which are administered by the Ministry of Mines. Footnote 1
In addition to compliance with DRC requirements, Banro is committed to global standards of environmental compliance as articulated by the Equator Principles – II standards (EPs), the leading global framework for environmental and social risk management in the mining industry. The EPs were prepared and are used today by financial institutions involved in international project debt financing and are based on the IFC Performance Standards on social and environmental sustainability and on the World Bank Group Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines. In addition to reflecting sound environmental management practices and workplace health and safety, these combined standards address a range of social responsibility issues, including labour and working conditions, community health, safety and security, land acquisition and voluntary resettlement.
Barrick Gold Corp.
The company subscribes to/implements the ISO14001 EMS Standard, International Cyanide Management Code, International Network for Acid Prevention (INAP), the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) environmental Position Statements on Climate Change, Mercury Risk Management, Mining and Protected Areas and the ICMM Sustainable Development Framework.
Responsible environmental management is fundamental to our success and we seek to continually improve our performance. Environmental Management Systems (EMS) at each of our operations help us achieve our goals of protection and stewardship. Performance indicators help us measure how well we have done. We recognize that there may be impacts to the existing natural environment due to the presence of our mining operations. As a result, we take a precautionary approach throughout the life of a mine by first assessing potential impacts, then evaluating how to avoid, mitigate or control these impacts. Controls typically include putting into place multi-layers of environmental protection and robust environmental management systems that include advanced planning against possible future events.
Our exploration programs are conducted within North American standards and the standards of the jurisdiction we are working in with respect to health, safety and the environment.
When conducting a drilling program someone from our team is appointed to be responsible to ensure that the company is operating within the standards and there are also inspections that are carried out periodically during and after the program.
Nine of our eleven operations are ISO 14001 certified. The two operations that are not certified are new operations that have environmental management systems based on ISO 14001 and are expected to receive certification in 2015.
Consistent with requirements under the ISO 14001 standard, the environmental risks (known as environmental aspects under the standard) are captured within a registry and risk ranked. This registry is utilized to help determine environmental priorities. Annual environmental objectives and targets are created for both the corporation and the individual sites based on this risk registry. Furthermore, if the environmental aspect carries a high enough risk, it is entered within a corporate risk registry and a corporate owner is assigned. These corporate risks receive higher profile and more frequent reviews by senior management to ensure they are managed appropriately.
Candente Copper Corp.
The company works in accordance with Peruvian environmental laws, which are held to international standard and Canadian best practice.Footnote 1 Environmental managers are on site, and environmental protocols are in place.
Delta Gold Corp.
We pay great attention to detail, seeking to understand local ecology and to adapt our activities to minimize impact.
The Cyanide Code – In July 2007, Goldcorp became a signatory to the International Cyanide Management Code (Cyanide Code). Certification to the Cyanide Code requires verification against the principles of the Cyanide Code by an independent third-party auditor accredited by the International Cyanide Management Institute. All nine of our operating mines are certified compliant with the Cyanide Code.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species. Each site has identified the IUCN Red List species that are in the area as well as species listed on national conservation lists.
Goldcorp recognizes water management as a significant concern shared by the company and our stakeholders. Optimizing water management can help to ensure water security and production, reduce costs, reduce impacts, improve operational excellence, and address stakeholder concerns. External stakeholders such as local communities, government and non-governmental organizations, shareholders, institutional investors, and financial institutions, combined with stricter regulatory standards, will continue to challenge the company to operate to higher and more effective water management standards. For these reasons, Goldcorp developed a Water Stewardship Strategy during the second half of 2013 to achieve the following objectives: Continuous improvement of potential impacts to water both within and outside the mine boundary; improved security of water supply by mapping watershed risks in our operating environments to provide a competitive advantage; minimized financial risk and costs by applying rigour to the management of water consumption, transport, treatment and discharge; enhanced growth opportunities by managing water as a strategic asset to provide a competitive edge for access to new reserves; increased accuracy of budgeting and execution and increased effectiveness working with regulatory and stakeholder challenges by inclusion of water risk assessments as part of Enterprise Risk Management; increased accuracy in planning and performance by providing tools for long-term water management; increased professional growth of staff by exposure to new and changing solutions, processes and technology; enhanced appeal to the investment community by verifiably and transparently reporting progress against established milestones; and elevated reputation and improved stakeholder relationships and support by proactively leading engagement on water matters. Goldcorp recognizes the importance of establishing and implementing a Water Stewardship Strategy due to the increasing value of water as a shared resource. Goldcorp’s mines have established a schedule for implementing the required milestones to achieve the objectives and future reports will discuss the status of these milestones.
Handa Copper Corp.
The company has a policy of minimum impact which is currently easily enforced as our activities are limited to soil sampling and mapping which has minimal to zero impact involving only very small and transient teams and camps. The environmental sensitivity of the company is significantly undermined by a very poorly policed lumber industry that operates in and around our exploration permits. These lumber companies conduct indiscriminate logging, using heavy machinery to create un-surveyed roads and producing significant environmental disturbance.
HudBay Minerals Inc.
We require our operating locations to have management systems certified to ISO 14001 standard. We also expect that local community engagement and grievance mechanisms include environmentally related concerns and/or grievances. In Peru we support joint company-community environmental monitoring programs with our neighbouring communities.
Kinross Gold Corp.
Our corporate environmental governance programs are embodied within Kinross’ Corporate Responsibility Management System (CRMS). They include environmental management standards, reporting requirements, performance metrics, and an audit program. Environmental performance is included in the Corporate Responsibility Performance Metric (CRPM) and, therefore, all employee incentives are tied to environmental compliance with Kinross’ environmental management system.
The CRMS is based on international standards for management systems (ISO14001), expanded to include specific Kinross programs for key issues facing the Company:
- Permitting and Design
- Water Management
- Energy and Climate Change
- Waste Management
- Mine Reclamation and Closure
At our Fort Knox facility in Fairbanks, Alaska, mine development has created a self-sustaining Arctic grayling fishery in the waterways immediately downstream of the operation.
- 2013 CR Report (PDF, 5.6 MB – pages 120-121)
- Case Study: Mining and Fish Hatchery Co-Existing in Alaska
At the Kupol mine in Russia we achieved significant improvements in energy intensity through the installation of variable frequency drives in the milling process and the use of high efficiency lighting. Additionally, at our Tasiast mine in Mauritania we were able to increase power efficiency by 8-9% through a new central power plant with reciprocating engines.
- 2013 CR Report (PDF, 5.6 MB - pages 110-112)
- Operational Energy Efficiency Achievements
- GHG Emissions
Kinross was one of 14 initial signatory companies to the International Cyanide Management Code (ICMC) in 2005. All sites have been certified except Tasiast, where we are expecting certification in 2015.
Our Kupol mine was the first mine in Russia to gain International Cyanide Management Code (ICMC) certification, which included Kupol’s transportation group (making it the first mine-operated transportation group in the world to be certified).
For more information please refer to page 64 of the 2009 CR Report PDF http://takingresponsibility2009.kinross.com/Assets/Pdfs/FullReport.pdf or view the online 2009 CR Report http://takingresponsibility2009.kinross.com/Environmental_Responsibility_Our_Commitment.aspx?caseid=10
Kinross supported research on nest density and breeding of the Beswick Swan in Eastern Russia that supported a recommendation that the swan be delisted from the Red Book of endangered species.
In partnership with the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and experts from local universities and NGOs, Kinross helped gather baseline information in the 3,700-hectare El Zarza Wildlife Refuge, located near Fruta del Norte, to develop an environmental management plan for the refuge. The work helped discover several new species of flora.
The Sunnyside mine, located near Silverton, Colorado, was acquired by Kinross in 2003. In April 2014, Sunnyside Gold Corporation proposed a “Game Plan for the Animas River”, a road map and schedule to improve water quality in the Upper Animas Basin through the collaborative efforts of multiple stakeholders within the Animas River Stakeholder Group (ARSG) framework.
In Chile, we have undertaken extensive studies to better understand the hydrologic cycle in the area, including work that indicated that between 60% and 90% of snow evaporates into the air rather than melting and contributing to surface and groundwater. We have conducted pilot projects to improve snowmelt infiltration into groundwater by installing wooden snow fencing.
- 2011 CR Report (PDF, 5.6 MB – pages 113-114)
- Case Study: Harvesting water in Chile’s Atacama desert
Since 2007, Kinross has been leading the $2.5 million Rico Creek rehabilitation program, stabilizing shorelines, re-establishing riverside vegetation and sponsoring the development of adjacent public parklands with playgrounds and sports facilities. In 2009 we launched the Espalha Creek project which has since re-established the forest areas alongside the creek, constructed 500 small dikes to slow stream flow and created contours in the land to reduce erosion and increase underground flow.
We conducted feasibility studies of the Lobo-Marte operation, located in the Atacama Desert, in order to understand the biological makeup of the area and to ultimately help protect and minimize impact to the sensitive species including the horned coot, three species of flamingos, viscachas, short-tailed chinchilas and the liolaemus rosenmanii lizard.
- 2011 CR Report (PDF, 5.6 MB – pages 123-124)
- Case Study: Harvesting water in Chile’s Atacama desert
In 2011, our Mineral Hill mine was awarded the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Hardrock Mineral Environmental Award honouring best practice in mine reclamation due, in part, to voluntary above and beyond actions such as the installation of an impermeable liner over the upper five acres and surface drainage channels of the tailings facility.
- 2011 CR Report (PDF, 5.6 MB – pages 126-127)
- Case Study: Harvesting water in Chile’s Atacama desert
In 2009, Kinross was presented with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National Hardrock Mineral Environmental Award for its reclamation work at the former DeLamar mine site in southwestern Idaho. This award acknowledges operators with an exceptional track record of meeting or exceeding reclamation requirements.
MBAC Fertilizer Corp.
A wide risk assessment was held and several management and monitoring plans were implemented for the project and operation phases to mitigate and control those eventual impacts. For example: Air quality, Noise, Soil contamination, Surface Water, Groundwater, Terrestrial Flora, Terrestrial Fauna, Aquatic Habitat, Speleology, Waste Management Plan, etc..
Nortec Minerals Corp.
Nortec develops projects in a manner that minimizes environmental damage and allows the land to be reclaimed in the future. Nortec will not use open pit mines in environmentally sensitive areas, and will work with local authorities in order to make sure all standards are being met.
NOVAGOLD Resources Inc.
The US and Canada have rigorous environmental standards and regulations that necessitate that we are vigilant on a daily basis in ensuring compliance with these requirements.Footnote 1 Note that as a development company rather than an operating company, our ongoing site operations are limited. As part of our Donlin Gold Project in Alaska, we have designed the project with state-of-the-art environmental controls (e.g., with a lined tailings facility and the highest level of controls for mercury emissions) as well as designing for closure from the start of operations.
Sherritt International Corporation
We work closely with the regulator and, in Madagascar, an independent advisory board made up of environmental experts. We anticipate and manage environmental risks through stakeholder/community engagement, public information and consultation, transparent communication, and adaptive management to address emerging environmental issues.
Stans Energy Corp.
Work completed by local environmental engineering studies is according to international standards.
Since we never got to the stage of re-starting what had been a previously operating rare earths open pit mine, environmental concerns were just beginning to be approached. We had prepared for us a report entitled preliminary environmental and social scoping report in February 2013 by North Coast Consulting. In that regard, there remained much to be done, but by spring of 2013 we were unable to continue mine development.
Strata Minerals Inc.
To date, exploratory drilling has been the only activity. The Company works with the local state government and forwards an environmental bond prior to any work. The Company works with local reclamation contractors – experts in reclamation work – to provide required reclamation land immediately after exploration work is complete on each site.
Suncor Energy Inc.
The company subscribes to/implements the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001 Standard, and the 16949 Standard.
The Operational Excellence Management System (OEMS) is Suncor’s framework of controls designed to eliminate the causes of unplanned events and incidents. It includes consistent standards, processes and procedures, and it enables Suncor to consistently and effectively manage operational risks, mitigate environmental impacts, ensure environmental and regulatory compliance and deliver safe, reliable operations. In addition to our OEMS framework, we also use our Asset development execution model which embeds the identification and mitigation of environmental concerns and risks throughout the project development lifecycle.
The company manages environmental concerns in the vicinity of their operations through rapid biodiversity assessments.
U.S. Oil Sands Inc.
Notable concerns and risks include contamination of groundwater. The Company has drilled 55,000 feet of core holes to determine if there is any groundwater in the vicinity of the project and determined there is none. Furthermore, the chemical used is naturally derived and biodegradable, in the event any is left in the residual processed sands.
A company indicated that it ensures environmental stewardships through risk registers, environmental monitoring (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually or as required) by the regulatory agencies and/or commitments with the communities, regulatory inspections, internal and external inspections, and site tours (community members), etc.; managed under the authority and with support of upper management.
A company indicated that, throughout all of its exploration phases, it incorporates all the national environmental procedures for all exploration, including drilling. All exploration activities undergo a detailed environmental assessment, in which prevention measures are taken, mitigation of environmental impacts is reviewed, as well as any other compensation for minimal environmental impact.
A company indicated that it is undertaking a reforestation program at its main project. As part of environmental education, some of the reforestation is done in coordination with local schools, so that children get to see what goes on within the project’s environmental procedures. A recycling project is also part of the environmental efforts the company goes through to generate positive environmental impacts.
The following companies indicated that they subscribe to/implement international environmental standards, guidelines, or agreements, but declined to provide further details:
- Candente Copper Corp.
- Handa Copper Corp.
- Unigold Inc.