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In This Issue:



The finalists for the 2015 Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) Awards for Community Engagement and Environmental Excellence have been selected and the award winners will be announced on May 11 at the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) Awards Gala at the 2015 Convention in Montreal.  

A total of 16 nominations were submitted by mining companies that participate in the TSM initiative, a performance-based program whereby mining operations evaluate, manage and publicly report on critical environmental and social responsibilities. The selection committee, comprised of members from the Mining Association of Canada’s (MAC) national Community of Interest (COI) 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.

“The group of applicants for this year's TSM Excellence Awards, especially the finalists, demonstrated a very high level of engagement with the wider community in an effort to really make a difference. They are raising the performance bar for industry and are deserving of recognition as they work towards real on-the-ground sustainability. Congratulations.”
— Joy Kennedy, Member of the Selection Committee and MAC COI Panel

“This year’s finalists were chosen because their projects have made meaningful change in the communities where these mining companies operate. They demonstrate how working directly with local communities and responding to their needs can extend the benefits that mining brings to regions in Canada and across the globe. We look forward to announcing the two winners at the CIM Awards Gala in May.”
— Pierre Gratton, President and CEO, MAC
In 2014, MAC established the TSM Excellence Awards to recognize innovative projects that raise the bar for environmental and social performance where Canadian mining companies operate, and to commemorate the TSM initiative’s 10-year anniversary of driving change in Canada’s mining industry. At the CIM Awards Gala in May 2014, IAMGOLD Corporation was recognized with the TSM Community Engagement Award for its village market gardening initiative developed by its Essakane mine in Burkina Faso. Syncrude Canada won the TSM Excellence Award for its tailings reclamation project, the Sandhill Fen Research Watershed Initiative.

The TSM Excellence Awards are intended to acknowledge innovative projects and initiatives that expand and promote sustainable development within the mining sector. For more information about TSM, please visit

Iron Ore Company of Canada: Collaborating on common priorities in Labrador West

The region of Labrador West – comprised of Labrador City and Wabush – is a good example of how mining can create modern towns. Labrador City, for example, was built in 1961 for employees of the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) and has grown to a town of 8,500. To help manage community impacts of a cyclical mining industry, IOC created the Community Advisory Panel (CAP) in 2006. The consultative forum includes both mining company representatives and community stakeholders, and helps IOC make informed decisions based on the community’s needs. In 2012, IOC took one step further by creating the Regional Task Force (RTF) to complement the CAP’s efforts. Where the CAP addresses issues at the local level, the RTF is comprised of senior members of the industry and senior government officials who address and escalate issues at the provincial or federal levels. Both the CAP and RTF meet at least four times each year, and their priorities are re-validated annually to ensure their activities remain focused on issues most critical to the local communities. 

These groups have generated positive results for the region, including advocating for affordable housing, addressing issues with homelessness, working to ensure the region has appropriate health, emergency and child care services, supporting the development of community infrastructure, and partnering with colleges to improve education and training opportunities. What is particularly notable about the CAP and RTF is that they have successfully united community stakeholders, industry and government at all levels to work towards a common goal: the development and sustainability of the communities where they operate.

Vale: Diversifying economic prosperity in Thompson, Manitoba

In November 2010, Vale’s Manitoba Operations in Thompson announced that it would scale back its operations to mining and milling only by 2015. Recognizing the importance of mining to the region’s economy, Vale immediately set to work to mitigate possible community risks of the partial decommissioning project – a full five years before it would occur. In 2011, Vale engaged and fully funded rePlan, co-launching a multi-stakeholder group, the Thompson Economic Diversification Working Group (TEDWG), that would work collaboratively on action plans to spur economic development and diversification in the region. The TEDWG involved a broad set of stakeholders, including representatives from Vale, Keewatin Tribal Council, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, the City of Thompson, the Manitoba Métis Federation, the Province of Manitoba, and the Thompson Chamber of Commerce. They were united in one common purpose: to accelerate Thompson’s development as a regional service centre for Northern Manitoba, with mining as a strong economic pillar. 

Priorities were determined through community engagement and included housing, education and training, regional identity and tourism, economic development, and infrastructure, among others. Over the course of two and half years, the TEDWG’s work resulted in the development of socio-economic action plans and a regulatory framework that are currently being implemented, as well as enduring relationships that were built upon 20,000 hours of inclusive and respectful engagement. Vale’s total investment in the TEDWG was over $2 million, and the process has been widely celebrated as best practice. In fact, the “TEDWG way” has become a common phrase in Thompson for how to bring people together to create positive socio-economic change and the model is currently being applied elsewhere in Manitoba.

De Beers Canada: Books in Homes literacy program in the NWT

When you put a book in a child’s hands, you open them up to a world of opportunity. This was at root of De Beers Canada’s thinking when it formed its Books in Homes program for children attending schools in isolated Aboriginal communities close to its Snap Lake mine in the Northwest Territories. Launched in 2003, the program was a response to concerns from the community that low literacy and low high school graduation rates were creating barriers for Aboriginal residents in obtaining higher education or qualifying for jobs in the mining industry. As limited access to reading materials and virtually non-existent school libraries were contributing to the low literacy rates, Books in Homes was designed to tackle this issue by helping students build home libraries and getting them excited about reading. Through the program, students select three books each year that they can take home to enjoy. Students participating from kindergarten to Grade 12 will have received 39 books courtesy of the company. To date, De Beers has delivered 37,000 books to students, and since 2007, the company has purchased books locally through the Yellowknife Book Cellar.

De Beers has worked with community stakeholders to design and shape the program. Important outcomes have resulted from this collaboration, including an expansion of the program to all grades, and not just for primary and elementary-aged students as originally intended, as well as extending it beyond the original seven NWT communities. De Beers also partnered with Yellowknife Book Cellar to develop a “book fair” format whereby books are brought to the community and children can take their selections home after visiting—a more exciting experience than the original order form format. There are several indicators that show the program is positively impacting the local communities. School attendance peaks on days when the books fairs are held, interest in the program has grown, and parents are increasingly visiting the Yellowknife Book Cellar with lists of books their children want them to purchase.

IAMGOLD Corporation: Multi-functional platform produces new opportunities for local women

In Essakane village, located near IAMGOLD’s Essakane mine in Burkina Faso, the main economic activities are agriculture, livestock farming and gold washing (searching for gold by hand). Women handle most of the domestic chores, particularly meal preparation which accounts for nearly 50% of their time. At a meeting with the mine’s representatives, women from the village expressed their desire to have an electric grain mill, which would greatly lessen the time it would take to shell and grind millet—a staple in the local diet. Traditional methods require the use of a mortar and pestle to grind and pound the grain into flour—a two to three hour process. It also requires the work of more than one woman in a household at a time. 

In response, IAMGOLD contacted Burkina Faso-based NGO, OCADES Kaya, to help the women build a multi-functional platform that would provide grain shelling and milling services, and would allow for potential new services in the future, such as a welding station. With the platform’s installation in 2013, the women now have access to technology that produces a higher-quality flour in just two minutes. This has greatly lightened up the women’s workload, freeing up their time for other activities, such as taking literacy classes and learning valuable skills like micro-finance. The women have also gained experience handling the technical and financial management of the platform, providing them with opportunities and experiences previously only afforded to men. The platform itself is a shelter with a lean-to that was constructed using recycled wood from the Essakane mine’s waste materials. This lean-to serves as a meeting place for the women to discuss the platform’s management. The mine also donated metal waste for a welding workshop held at the platform that was used by artisans to make and repair agricultural equipment and housing materials. In April 2015, the OCADES Kaya/Dori consortium will withdraw from the initiative to allow for the village women to take over full management of the platform. The women intend to gradually add income-generating activities that will ensure the sustainability of the platform in the future.

Dominion Diamond Ekati Corporation and Diavik Diamond Mine Inc.: Grizzly bear monitoring in the NWT

When regulators, monitoring agencies and community stakeholders asked for a grizzly bear monitoring program, the Ekati Diamond Mine (operated by Dominion Diamond Corporation) and the Diavik Diamond Mine (operated by Rio Tinto) responded by developing a new program that went over and above their environmental monitoring requirements. The Joint Regional Grizzly Bear DNA Program was designed to assess bear population trends and to determine if mining-related activity influenced the relative abundance and distribution of grizzly bears over time. 

Following a successful pilot study, the program began its initial two-year phase in 2012 and the gathering of baseline population data was completed in 2013.  The study area covered 16,000 km2 of the Central Barrens encompassing the two mine properties. The area was split into a 12x12 km grid with one post located in each grid square, for a total of 112 posts. Traditional knowledge was sought by community elders and land users for the posts’ development and placement. The posts were constructed with mechanisms to bait the bears, which would result in hair samples being left behind that were then collected for DNA analysis. A total of 1,902 hair samples were collected in 2012, and 112 grizzly bear individuals were identified. In 2013, this number rose to 4,709 samples and 136 grizzly bear individuals were identified, 39 of which had no previous detections. The results suggest a detection frequency of 9 to 11 bears/1,000 km2, above estimates from the 1990s where the frequency was 3.5 bears/1,000 km2, indicating a stable or increasing bear population in the region. This project, the largest grizzly bear DNA program in the territory, was the first major collaboration between diamond mines in the region. Recently, De Beers’ Snap Lake mine and Gahcho Kué project have come on board, doubling the initial study area to over 30,000 km2. Based on its success, the Government of Nunavut has also deployed similar programs at Back River, Hackett River, Courageous Lake, Izok, Hope Bay, and in the Eastern Arctic.

Vale: Black bear management in bear country

Near Vale’s Voisey’s Bay mine in Labrador, there can be upwards of 650 sightings of black bears in any given year. In 2005, Voisey’s Bay developed its innovative Black Bear Management Strategy that not only addresses the danger of working in bear country, but also respects the cultural importance of black bears to the Innu and Inuit people of Labrador. The strategy recognizes that, as visitors to the region, the mine needs to co-exist in the remote area without negatively impacting the species. Preventing encounters is paramount and is accomplished by reducing attractants like food and waste, and by restricting access to site buildings and infrastructure. This has resulted in many innovations over the years, often made in-house, to how food waste is stored and removed, and the installation of specially retrofitted door handles that prevent the bears from opening them with their paws. After observing small bear cubs climbing hydro poles on the property and perching at the top, the mine wrapped the poles with a special liner, making them too slippery for curious cubs to climb them. 

All new employees, contractors and visitors undergo training that includes information about black bears, what to do in an encounter, company policies and practices, and how to report sightings. Deterrents, like noise makers or rubber bullets, are only used when required to encourage a bear to leave an area that may result in an encounter with staff or when a bear is exhibiting persistent or aggressive behaviour. In the event that a bear becomes more aggressive or is repeatedly attempting to enter buildings or lunch rooms, Vale consults with government and Aboriginal stakeholders to trap and relocate the bear away from the mine site. As an absolute last resort, a bear may be put down if relocation attempts prove unsuccessful, but only following consultation with stakeholders. If put down, the meat and hide are prepared for the community freezer in Nain, the nearest community to the site. Thanks in large part to this strategy, there have been no mine personnel injuries as a result of an encounter with a black bear.

IAMGOLD Corporation: Growing green spaces at local schools in Burkina Faso

In the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, the vegetation primarily consists of spiniferous plants and tree density is very low as a result of climate change and desertification. In schools near IAMGOLD’s Essakane mine, there were few trees to provide children and teachers with shelter from the sun, wind and sandstorms. Mine staff saw an opportunity to change that and, after consulting with nearby communities, launched a planting project called “Bosquets scolaires” (“School Groves”). The project works to promote environmental education amongst students—the decision-makers of tomorrow—to encourage them to take action to protect the environment and replace harmful practices with positive ones. Since 2013, four schools near the Essakane mine have created groves and vegetable gardens that are maintained by students under the supervision of their teachers. Hundreds of students have learned techniques in tree planting and care, as well as how to grow vegetables, which are used by the school canteens for students’ meals. Beyond environmental education and nutritional benefits, the groves have generated additional benefits. A variety of shade and fruit trees have been planted that help improve air quality, provide favourable habitat for wildlife, and prevent soil erosion as the trees’ crowns act as a screen against wind and sandstorms. 

The project involves a number of stakeholders working together: students, teachers, communities, local environmental and educational authorities, and the mine. The communities near the mine, and the parent’s association in particular, participated in every phase of the project, contributing pertinent information about the land and farming practices, and providing the necessary labour during the installation of the groves. For its part, the mine contributed technical expertise, and the equipment and supplies that made the planting of the trees possible. The mine also awards prizes to the participating schools for excellence. Based on the project’s success, there has been growing interest from other communities to plant school groves.

Deadline approaching for MAC’s Mineral Economics Scholarship

The Paul Stothart Memorial Scholarship in Mineral Economics is now in its third year. The scholarship, valued at $3,500, was established in 2012 from the generosity of MAC member companies in memory of the late Paul Stothart, MAC’s former Vice President of Economic Affairs. The scholarship is awarded annually to a Canadian university student who shares a similar passion and talent for mining finance as Paul had. 

Qualified candidates must be studying either a Bachelor or Master of Economics, or a Master of Business Administration at a Canadian university. Applicants must also demonstrate an interest, supported by current or intended course work, in mineral economics or mining commerce. Applicants will be considered based on their academic achievement, as well as their submission demonstrating their commitment to a career in Canada’s mining industry. Students can submit their applications until May 15, 2015 and the scholarship will be awarded for the 2015-2016 school year. 

For more information about the scholarship and eligibility, please visit

Independent task force reviewing MAC’s tailings management requirements and guidance

Last month, MAC announced it has commissioned an independent, multi-stakeholder expert task force to review its tailings management requirements and guidance documents under its TSM initiative, a mandatory program for all MAC members, to ensure they are as effective as they can be at preventing tailings dam failures and optimizing the design, construction and ongoing management of tailings storage facilities. MAC plans to publish the task force’s final report by the end of 2015.

The formation of the independent task force is part of MAC’s ongoing review of its tailings management program, which it proactively initiated immediately following the August 2014 tailings breach at the Mount Polley mine, located in south-central British Columbia. The task force will review TSM’s tailings management requirements and MAC’s three tailings management guides, and will advise on how these can be enhanced and strengthened. The findings and recommendations of the BC independent expert engineering investigation and review panel’s report, released in late January, will be assessed by the task force as part of its review.  

One of the BC panel’s key recommendations pertaining to corporate governance was that any mining operation proposing to operate a tailings storage facility in BC should either be required to be a member of MAC—ensuring adherence to TSM—or be obliged to commit to an equivalent program that would also include an audit function. Notwithstanding this endorsement, the MAC Board of Directors believes that a review to consider further enhancements to and strengthening of the tailings component of TSM is warranted.

“The Towards Sustainable Mining initiative, along with the mining industry’s prioritization of tailings management, has contributed to a strong record of the safe operation, management, closure and aftercare of tailings facilities in recent decades. At the same time, we believe there is always room for improvement and we are committed to learning from the Mount Polley incident with the goal of ensuring we never have another one. The Canadian mining industry is committed to doing everything it can to ensure the safety and protection of the environment and communities around our sites.  If anything can be changed within the TSM system to improve safety, we want to know about it.”
— Pierre Gratton, President and CEO, MAC

The independent task force is chaired by Doug Horswill, a former Chair of MAC’s Board of Directors and former Senior Vice President of Sustainability and External Affairs at Teck Resources Limited. The task force includes the following representatives: Peter Lighthall, independent consultant (formerly with AMEC and Klohn Crippen); Dr. John Sobkowicz, Thurber Engineering Ltd.; Nalaine Morin, Tahltan Heritage Resources Environmental Assessment Team; Alan Young, International Boreal Conservation Campaign and member of MAC’s Community of Interest Advisory Panel; Dr. Craig Ford, Corporate Responsibility Solutions Inc. and Executive in Residence at the Schulich School of Business; and Dr. Michael Davies, Teck Resources Limited and Chair of MAC’s Tailings Working Group.  Dirk Van Zyl, who served on the BC panel, will serve as a special advisor to the task force.

“It is a privilege to be part of this important review, which continues to demonstrate the Canadian mining industry’s commitment to dam safety. The task force will work over the coming months to ensure that TSM and MAC’s tailings guides continue to be effective in the management of tailings facilities across Canada. If improvements to TSM’s tailings requirements and guidance can be made in light of the findings from the BC panel’s report, I am confident that the task force’s team of experts will be able to identify them for immediate incorporation.” 
— Doug Horswill, Chair, TSM Independent Review Task Force

TSM is a mandatory program for MAC members, and its requirements go well beyond regulatory obligations, and the Mining Association of British Columbia and the Quebec Mining Association are currently implementing it for their members. A major component of TSM includes commitments to ensure the safe operation and management of tailings. In fact, one of the main drivers behind the development of TSM in the late 1990s was to ensure tailings dam safety through strong tailings management practices. 

Canada celebrates National Mining Week from May 11-17

Each year, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) marks National Mining Week, which celebrates the important role that the mining industry plays in the lives of Canadians. This includes mining’s role in our economy, the jobs that directly and indirectly support the sector and, of course, the products we depend on in our daily lives in which minerals and metals are the building blocks.

National Mining Week complements other provincial mining weeks that take place across the country throughout the year. Together, these weeks help to underscore the mining industry’s fundamental role in our national economy and in virtually all regions of Canada. 

Mining in Canada – Did you Know?
  • Mining contributes more than $54 billion to Canada’s GDP and accounts for 20% of total goods exports. 
  • Approximately 380,000 people are employed in mining across Canada and well over 10,000 Aboriginal Canadians.
  • Those who work in mining enjoy the highest wages and salaries of all industrial sectors in Canada with an average annual pay exceeding $110,000. This surpasses the earnings of workers in forestry, manufacturing, finance and construction.
  • The industry supports the second-largest supply sector in the world behind the United States with more than 3,400 businesses supplying the mining sector, including engineering, construction and financial services. 
  • Canada ranks in the top five countries in the global production of 11 major minerals and metals. 
  • Globally, Canada is recognized for its leadership in safety and sustainability. Mining companies were the first in the world to develop an externally-verified performance system for sustainable mining practices with the creation of the TSM initiative. 
It’s important to note that the Canadian mining industry’s current contributions and presence in Canada cannot be taken for granted. Canada’s strength in the mining industry – and the jobs and economic contributions that go along with it – are not a given. Canada is only one of many attractive countries to mine or to list, and the industry needs the right economic and regulatory ecosystem to thrive.

To learn more about the Canadian mining industry and its contributions to Canada and abroad, read our Facts & Figures 2014 Report at

Federal Budget 2015 invests in several mining essentials

On April 21, MAC welcomed the federal government’s renewal of funding outlined in Budget 2015 for key areas such as environmental assessment, the Major Projects Management Office, Aboriginal education and training, and geoscience.

Mining now accounts for a large majority of federal environmental assessments. Support for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and other federal permitting departments, is essential to ensure the timely and effective review of major mining projects. As the largest employer of Aboriginal Canadians on a proportionate bases, the mining sector is also an active partner in several Aboriginal mine training programs across Canada.  Budget 2015 renews investments for the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Strategies program, the Skills and Partnership Fund and for Indspire. Renewal of the Targeted Geoscience Initiative ($22 million over five years) is also an important investment in discovering new deposits and supporting the long-term future of the mining industry.

Budget 2015 also includes a number of additional initiatives helpful to Canada’s mining sector, including:
  • Extending the borrowing limits for the governments of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to $1.3 billion and $650 million, respectively, that should facilitate new infrastructure investments.
  • Extending the 15% mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors for an additional year.  Budget 2015 also reaffirms the government’s stated intention to ensure that the costs associated with undertaking environmental studies and community consultations that are required to obtain an exploration permit will be eligible for Canadian Exploration Expense treatment. 
  • Budget 2015 proposes $30.8 million over five years for measures to enhance the safety of marine transportation in the Arctic, and to further strengthen marine incident prevention, preparedness and response in waters south of the 60th parallel.
  • Budget 2015 proposes allocating $23 million over five years from Natural Resources Canada to stimulate the technological innovation needed to separate and develop rare earth elements and chromite.
  • Budget 2015 proposes $42 million over five years to expand the footprint and resources of the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS).  The TCS is a dedicated, professional group of employees that provide important support to Canadian businesses abroad, including in the mining sector, one of Canada’s largest outward investors.
“Given the current financial situation and the need for fiscal discipline, I am pleased to see the federal government renew investment in critical areas. The government has also made some strategic investments in innovation, marine safety and infrastructure that should pay dividends over time. Taken together, the federal government has maintained investments important to our sector, but also necessary to ensure Canadians benefit when the commodities market rebounds.”
— Pierre Gratton, President and CEO, MA
About the Mining Association of Canada (MAC)
MAC 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, steel making coal, mined oil sands and industrial minerals and are actively engaged in mineral exploration, mining, smelting, refining and semi-fabrication.
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