Syncrude Canada and IAMGOLD get top nods for inaugural TSM Awards
OTTAWA, May 13, 2014 – For their innovative projects that raise the bar for corporate responsibility in the Canadian mining sector, Syncrude Canada and IAMGOLD Corporation were recognized with inaugural Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) Awards yesterday at the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) Awards Gala in Vancouver.
IAMGOLD Corporation was recognized with the TSM Community Engagement Award for its village market gardening project in Burkina Faso, while Syncrude Canada was honoured with the TSM Award for Environmental Excellence for its tailings reclamation project, the Sandhill Fen Research Watershed Initiative.
“We extend our congratulations to Syncrude Canada and IAMGOLD Corporation for this important distinction, and for being positive catalysts of change in the communities where they operate,” said Pierre Gratton, MAC’s President and CEO. “Each of these projects is an example of how Canadian miners continue to drive world leading environmental practices and continue to find new and innovative ways to collaborate with communities.”
A total of 25 nominations were submitted by mining companies that participate in the TSM initiative. The selection committee, comprised of members from MAC’s independent national community of interest (i.e. stakeholder) advisory panel, selected the finalists based on criteria such as innovation, involvement of and engagement with communities, and project outcomes.TSM performance was also considered as an indicator of the company’s ongoing commitment to corporate responsibility.
“Being on the TSM Awards selection committee was really a pleasure,” said Philip Oxhorn, Professor of Political Science and Founding Director of the Institute for the Study of International Development, McGill University. “The quality of the proposals was very impressive from the perspective of their contributions to local development. In fact, deciding on the winners from among them was quite a challenge!”
TSM Environmental Excellence Award 2014 Winner: Syncrude Canada
In the boreal forests of Northern Alberta where Syncrude has a large oil sands mining operation, fen wetlands are commonplace and, in nature, can take thousands of years to establish. This peat-forming, groundwater-fed wetland became Syncrude’s source of inspiration as it looked to transform a tailings structure into a thriving wetland in 2007.
With very little information on fen reclamation to refer to, Syncrude established the interdisciplinary Sandhill Fen Technical Advisory Panel to create something that had never been done before, and the Sandhill Fen Research Watershed Initiative was born. The watershed was developed on 52 hectares of sand-capped soft tailings on a portion of what was once a 60-metre deep mine. In all, more than 28 kinds of wetland plants were introduced and vegetation was selected to mirror those in naturally-occurring fens in the area. Construction of the watershed was completed in 2012 and will be closely monitored over the next 10 to 20 years.
This project is still in its early years, but results are encouraging. Peat studies show that it is possible to transplant live peat from a natural environment and grow it in a newly-constructed area. Additionally, a number of native plants have successfully taken seed and are growing on their own without having been planted. The information being gathered is invaluable towards improving wetland reclamation best practices for Syncrude and the oil sands industry as a whole.
TSM Community Engagement Award 2014 Winner: IAMGOLD Corporation
In the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, home to IAMGOLD’s Essakane gold mine, the climate is desert-like, often reaching 45 ̊ C with very little rainfall. Populations largely rely on livestock breeding and gold mining for their livelihoods. To improve security and combat poverty in the region, IAMGOLD committed to develop alternate revenue sources for communities living near the mine site. Working with communities of interest, market gardening emerged as an opportunity to broaden revenue sources, while at the same time improve food security and nutrition.
In 2009, 100 women from the relocated 500-member Marganta community adopted the practice using a solar-powered well and water storage system provided by IAMGOLD. This innovation has greatly lightened the women’s workload and has allowed them to water garden beds without worrying about a lack of water. Two years later, drip irrigation technology was added, which has helped increase production without increasing water use. Vegetables can now be cultivated year-round, increasing the number of harvests to two to three per year instead of just one.
Since 2009, nearly 400 producers (more than 50% women) have earned additional revenue through market gardening, and many have doubled their annual income. What’s more, there has been an increase in people choosing gardening over gold panning. The project’s success has also generated much interest by neighbouring villages and other mining companies who would like to replicate it in other regions.
Now in its tenth year, TSM is a performance-based program in which mining operations evaluate, manage and publicly report on critical environmental and social responsibilities. For more information about the TSM Awards or the TSM initiative, please visit www.mining.ca.
The Mining Association of Canada is the national organization for the Canadian mining industry. Its members account for most of Canada’s production of base and precious metals, uranium, diamonds, metallurgical coal, mined oil sands and industrial minerals and are actively engaged in mineral exploration, mining, smelting, refining and semi-fabrication. Please visit www.mining.ca.