Two Canadian mines received awards for sustainable practices at the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum’s (CIM) Awards Gala held on Monday in Montreal.
The Community of Interest Advisory Panel of the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) has chosen New Gold’s (TSX: NGD) New Afton gold mine in B.C. and Rio Tinto’s (NYSE: RIO) (ASX: RIO) (LON: RIO) Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories to be the recipients of this year’s Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) Excellence Awards.
The TSM Excellence Awards were introduced in 2014 and comprise two categories: the TSM Environmental Excellence Award and the TSM Community Engagement Excellence Award. For mining companies to qualify for these awards, they must be actively applying TSM principles.
TSM assesses its effectiveness based on a series of thorough environmental and social performance standards. These standards comprise tailings management, climate change, water stewardship, relationships with Indigenous peoples and communities, safety and health, preservation of biodiversity, crisis management, and the prevention of child and forced labor.
A new standard, which concentrates on equity, diversity, and inclusion, is anticipated to be released later this year.
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Diavik mine contributes to circular economy
Employees at Rio Tinto’s Diavik mine in the Northwest Territories discovered an opportunity to reuse copper wire from the underground mining levels that were mostly completed. A team of employees suggested to Diavik they could save copper wire whenever feasible and store it in containers to donate to community groups off-site.
Diavik backed this initiative and made it part of their scheduled work, providing payment to those who volunteered. Although the project was modest at first, it grew significantly in 2019 when Diane Haché, a former employee, and her partner Michel Tremblay, a current employee, led a team of volunteers to increase the mine’s recycling efforts. They stripped and shipped the salvaged copper for sale, with all proceeds going to Diavik’s Community Contribution Program.
The initiative has since raised over $500,000 for local charities like the Stanton Territorial Hospital Foundation, YWCA NWT, HomeBase Yellowknife, Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation, and NWT On The Land Collaborative. Furthermore, the project has diverted approximately 225,000 pounds of copper cable from ending up in the landfill.
Overall, this recycling project began as a small, employee-driven initiative and evolved into a significant contributor to Diavik’s Community Contribution Program.
MAC’s Community of Interest Advisory Panel was impressed by the noteworthy influence that the innovative sustainable recycling program had on the local area. The initiative had a significant impact on the community, providing employment, volunteer opportunities, and charitable donations.
Additionally, the representatives observed that the recycling program was contributing to the green energy transition by repurposing materials that have already been used, particularly copper. This process is an excellent example of the circular economy, wherein resources are reused, reducing waste and environmental impacts.
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New Gold setting high standard for reducing greenhouse gas
New Gold is setting a high standard for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the mining industry. The New Afton Mine has earned AAA verification for energy and GHG management under the TSM protocol, demonstrating the company’s commitment to responsible practices. Additionally, the mine is the sole North American mine certified under the International Standards Organization’s (ISO) 50001:2011 Energy Management Standard.
ISO 50001 and TSM are renowned, respected programs, regarded as top-tier standards in the industry. Meeting these standards indicates that energy management practices are at the highest level. New Gold’s New Afton Mine has attained these standards by incorporating new technologies and best practices, and the company receives tremendous support from its Indigenous Partners and employees in this pursuit of excellence.
To earn certification under the ISO 50001 Energy Management Standard, an organization must demonstrate that it has implemented a systematic approach to managing energy, including establishing a comprehensive energy policy, identifying energy performance indicators, and developing objectives and targets for improving energy performance.
In 2021, New Afton established a GHG reduction objective in addition to its energy objective, aligning with the company’s transition to a lower carbon future. New Afton not only met but exceeded its GHG reduction goal by an impressive 107%. Similarly, the company surpassed its energy objective by an extraordinary 273%. This is the eighth consecutive year that New Afton has exceeded its energy objective.
The runners-up for the TSM Excellence Awards also demonstrated noteworthy efforts towards sustainable mining practices. Agnico Eagle Mine’s (TSX: AEM) (NYSE: AEM) Pinos Altos mine, for instance, offered skill development and training opportunities to the local communities, positioning them for future success.
Glencore’s Raglan Mine, on the other hand, supported the Salluit community by improving its safety and infrastructure. This included providing information, financial contributions, and donating flags and poles to enhance safe hunting and fishing trail access, thereby ensuring a sustainable and safe environment for the community.
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