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All rights reserved.
For Imperial and its subsidiaries a workforce of over 700 people is the most valuable resource and fundamental to the success of the Company. In the region in which they operate, the mines work with leadership and members of the community to assist them in meeting their objectives with a focus on youth, education and health.
The mines partner with and support regional educational institutions whose programs are geared to the next generation of geoscientists, engineers, trades and other skilled positions. The Red Chris mine is engaged with Northwest Community College School of Exploration & Mining (Smithers) Program Advisory Committee to support development of programs like the Environmental Monitoring Assistant Program, the field based Workforce Exploration Skills Training Program, and the Mineral Processing Operator and Surface Mining Foundations Program. The mine has benefited from these programs by filling entry level positions, and expects this to be a valuable source for obtaining newly skilled workers.
The value of the programs noted below extends beyond acquiring skills and qualifications - they help to create a foundation for sustainable communities.
Collectively Imperial, its subsidiaries and their employees support a range of organizations across the province including BC Children’s Hospital, the United Way, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Association for Mineral Exploration of BC, the Mining Association of BC, the Mining Association of Canada, BC Chamber of Commerce, BC Business Council, and local government associations such as Union of BC Municipalities, North Central Local Government Association, and several Chamber of Commerce branches.
Red Chris Development Company Ltd. and the Tahltan Nation signed an Impact, Benefit and Co-Management Agreement (IBCA) in July 2015. The IBCA, which met approval by a community referendum, provides the basis for partnership between the Tahltan people and Red Chris for the life of the mine, in the areas of education, training, employment and contracting opportunities, capacity support and provisions for communication and interaction on issues such as social and environmental responsibility.
Relations with the Tahltan Nation continue to be strengthened through cooperative management procedures, employment, contracting, sponsorship and community support activities. First Nation employees represent over 30% of the permanent workforce at the Red Chris mine, and through the IBCA provisions for training and education opportunities, the number of First Nation employees is expected to increase over time.
Mount Polley Mining Corporation’s entered into the Mount Polley Participation Agreement with the Williams Lake Indian Band (T’exelcemc First Nation) in December 2011 and the Soda Creek Indian Band (Xat’sull First Nation) in May 2012. These agreements were the first between First Nations and an operating mine in British Columbia, and resulted in a high level of engagement and communication with the leadership and members of the Xat’sull and T’exelcemc First Nation communities.
More recently, this strengthened relationship provided a critical foundation for communications and cooperation following the Mount Polley Breach. Meetings are regularly held with First Nations to ensure they are consulted on all ongoing development and future plans for the mine.
Mine management work closely and cooperatively with First Nation representatives and government regulators to assure environmental management is consistent with the needs of the local First Nations and meets the highest industry standards. One of the key commitments is to maintain water quality that will sustain aquatic life. Aquatic life is the most sensitive user of water; therefore by protecting aquatic ecosystems other water users (recreational, drinking water and wildlife) are also protected. Long term water quality is closely monitored to ensure the requisite water quality criteria to protect aquatic life are achieved.
Red Chris is pioneering environmental management by producing a comprehensive Environmental Management System (EMS). The EMS consists of a series of management procedures and monitoring programs that integrate engineering design and environmental planning to maximize the mitigation of potential impacts of the mine on the environment. The EMS contains three key elements: a series of integrated environmental management plans, a formal environmental awareness and training program, and ongoing environmental monitoring plans. The EMS contains a comprehensive Wildlife Management Plan specifically related to the potential impacts of the mine on the local wildlife. In particular, mountain goats and stone sheep, which inhabit the surrounding areas of the Red Chris site, are monitored and evaluated to identify whether mine activities influence their use of habitat. The Wildlife Management Plan makes extensive use of remote cameras which provide both still and video recordings of animal movements. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) predicts concentrations and loadings to the receiving environment, and provides recommendations for a series of surface water, effluent and aquatic monitoring programs throughout the life of mine. Monitoring programs designed, developed and implemented by EIA biologists are designed to calibrate and check the conceptual and predicted findings.
The Red Chris Monitoring Committee (RCMC) is a requirement of the Mines Act Permit. The RCMC is chaired by representatives from Red Chris and the Tahltan Nation. The RCMC meets regularly, and includes representatives from the Tahltan, Red Chris, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. An Environmental Oversight Committee (EOC) has been established under the IBCA and is a forum for dialogue between RCDC, Tahltan Central Government and Tahltan Nation representatives. The EOC terms of reference lays out environmental management mechanisms for the committee relating to the EMS, the project’s environmental compliance, monitoring and performance, all project related environmental information and makes recommendations to the PAC concerning environmental matters, federal and provincial permit applications and environmental monitoring programs.
Mount Polley develops a comprehensive environmental monitoring plan on an annual basis. This plan includes surface and groundwater quality monitoring, lake profiling and sampling, dust fall collection, biological monitoring, and wildlife monitoring. Additionally, supplemental monitoring plans are implemented beyond permit requirements to ensure protection of the environment.
Mount Polley continues implementation Toward Sustainable Mining (TSM), a program administered by the Mining Association of Canada that provides a public and transparent commitment to responsible mining. The principles of TSM demonstrate leadership in the areas of community engagement and globally recognized environmental practices, and a commitment to the safety and health of employees and surrounding communities. TSM’s tools and indicators drive performance and ensure key mining risks are managed responsibly.
Red Chris and Mount Polley mines are engaged and committed to occupational health and safety management practices that are in the best interest of employees, business partners and the local communities.
The mines have comprehensive protocol and programs which provide fundamental training and ongoing education to assure operations maintain maximum levels of safety and security for all employees. Ongoing program improvements and training emphasize a safety first culture. Mine operations focus on building a risk based safety culture where all workers complete pre-task hazard assessments which help to identify hazards and implement appropriate controls to mitigate risk. The introduction of job hazard assessment is designed to manage high risk or unusual work place conditions so adequate work plans are created to ensure these jobs are completed safely.
Maintaining a positive safety culture is fundamental to site safety. Red Chris mine achieved one full year (2015) of operations without a lost time incident. This is a major accomplishment for a project the magnitude of Red Chris during the initial phase of operations. Notable safety statistics include 642,700 total man hours worked with 13 medical aids and 0 lost time incidents. As Red Chris commenced operations in 2015, mine rescue and first aid teams were formed. Currently there are 25 Level 3 First Aid team members and 6 with emergency medical response or paramedic status. Training is ongoing to increase the certification of all First Aid personnel. The Red Chris mine rescue and first aid teams are preparing to compete in the annual Provincial Mine Rescue Competition this year.
Mount Polley continues to review and develop various components of its mine safety program, as well as implementation and improvement of the risk management programs. A primary focus for the mine in 2015 was the review and update of the Emergency Response Plan and mine site procedures. An updated Field Level Hazard Assessment has been completed to include a more comprehensive tool for employees and contractors to use as part of their pre-job hazard assessment. Mount Polley maintains an active Mine Rescue and First Aid teams. The members of these teams an involved in ongoing training to improve the level of certification and proficiency.
Imperial and its subsidiaries are committed to responsible resource development. Mine operations are proactive and progressive in providing safety training and education and a safe working environment for all employees, and are consistent and steadfast in our support of environmental research.
Red Chris and Mount Polley mines are committed to working closely with local communities and First Nations where they operate and where our employees live, to ensure there is open and direct dialogue. The mines form an important part of these local regions and as such, are dedicated to provide assistance to and directly participate in activities and societies that benefit the environment and the people. The operations will continue to build and maintain a strong mutually beneficial relationship with First Nations based on consultation, communication and cooperation.