Mine Site Closure and Reclamation at Goldcorp
Mining is a dirty job but mine reclamation shouldn’t be. We speak to Goldcorp about its Corporate Social Responsibility Plan and sustainable development objectives
Mine site closure and reclamation is a critical element of mining and requires an immense amount of planning, design, and implementation for success. Because a mine begins to close the day it opens, decisions are made before, during and after the life of the mine to develop the best, and most cost-effective, way of closing a site and bringing the landscape back to life.
On the forefront of mine closure and reclamation is Goldcorp Inc. The Canadian company has built a solid reputation by implementing policies that consider its Corporate Social Responsibility Plan as well as its sustainable development objectives. When closing a site, Goldcorp strives to aid local communities in bringing the transition from mine operations to post mining, and to plan for the socio-economic challenges that may result from the termination of mine operations.
Understanding the process
From the earliest stage of a mine’s lifecycle, Goldcorp plans to open and close the mine in the most feasible and responsible way. All of the company’s operations have closure plans in place, designed to prevent long term adverse impacts on the environment and the surrounding communities. These plans are reviewed annually to ensure they remain current and reflect any changes that may have occurred over the previous 12 months. Because each mine site is different, each closure plan is unique in its own way, customized for the community and surrounding area it’s located in.
The company is committed to closing mines in a sustainable manner. The goal is to establish healthy ecosystems, a productive land use, and sustainable socio-economic conditions following the closure of a mine.
To do so, Goldcorp works with communities and collaborates during the life of the mine to identify and support community development projects that are sustainable, have community ownership, and can be run independently of the mine in the long term. The company works to remediate damaged lands from mining operations and has invested substantial funds into transforming closed mine sites into flourishing habitat for both local communities and wildlife.
A prime example can be seen at Goldcorp’s Porcupine mine located in Ontario, Canada. The award-winning reclamation project included the use of biosolids as a cover and wild grasses to promote a self-sustaining environment. This in return attracted wildlife, including several black bears and the increased number of bee colonies, spawning a local honey industry.
Goldcorp’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team is responsible for improving the consistency and effectiveness of its activities, while remaining sensitive to the unique aspects of each area’s social, political, economic, and cultural environment, The company’s CSR objective is to apply this policy framework across all of its organizations, and to expand and improve on it as it applies to each individual program or initiative.
Examples of Goldcorp’s CSR plan in place can be seen at its former San Martin mine in Honduras. What used to be a mining camp is now the San Martin Ecology Center, a 31-room, eco-tourism themed hotel with a restaurant, swimming pool and other amenities that provide citizens of the area with lasting economic benefits and self-sufficiency.
The reclaimed site is also thriving with agri-businesses. Goldcorp has supported the hiring and training of local people in chicken and hog farming, growing of lemons, oranges and mangos, as well as indigenous plants that are a source of biofuel. In addition, farmers are now cultivating biofuel seed crops to widen the circle of sustainability for generations to come.
Sustainable development plans
Goldcorp is also involved in a wide range of sustainable development plans. The company is committed to making a positive difference in the communities in which it operates. Through economic contributions, community involvement, community consultation, support of health and education, and the sponsorship of special events, Goldcorp is making an enormous difference in the lives of people and communities around the world.
At the company’s Marlin mine in Guatemala, the company collaborated with the Citizen’s Development Corps to create the Fundación Sierra Madre. The mission of the foundation is to initiate and implement sustainable, community-based development and capacity-building programs in the municipalities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipacapa.
Managed and staffed by Guatemalans, the foundation has become an important part of the local community. The foundation has also involved a variety of infrastructure development including; more than 100 construction projects including schools, computer labs and recreation halls; medical centers and equipment; vocational classrooms for electrical and automotive training; as well as daycare facilities.
Although mining is a dirty job requiring massive amounts of land to be disrupted, Goldcorp is a prime example of how companies can actually improve the surrounding areas as well as helping to bring a better future for local communities.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.