Since its inception, the Mining Association of Canada has been committed to fostering policies around responsible mining and Canada Mining Standards. To that end, they developed the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) program. This is a comprehensive guide to support Canadian mining operations by minimizing environmental risks and improving productivity.
TSM was started in 2004 using the core principles of accountability, transparency, and credibility. Its purpose is to guide its members towards a proactive role as a major source of energy and a willing partner in supporting the environment.
Accountability comes into play because every member of the Mining Association of Canada is obligated to participate in the Towards Sustainable Mining program. This means conducting ongoing assessments at all levels of a mining operation. These assessments are made available to the community at large, which speaks to the transparency issue.
In fact, there are 23 important indicators that are used to judge a mining operation’s sustainability. The results of these “report cards” are made available to the public. As for credibility, the participating TSM members are in active consultation with the Community of Interest Advisory Panel. This puts them in direct contact with civic leaders and concerned citizens. The goal is to keep the lines of communication open and to answer any and all concerns that the groups might have.
How does Towards Sustainable Mining work? First, the mining operation needs to commit to the program’s guiding principles. Those principles set the foundation for a company to act responsibly through all their practices. Among the principles are the following items:
- Involving communities of interest in the design and implementation of the Towards Sustainable Mining initiative;
- Proactively seeking, engaging and supporting dialogue regarding our operations;
- Fostering leadership throughout our companies to achieve sustainable resource stewardship wherever we operate;
- Seeking to minimize the impact of our operations on the environment and biodiversity through all stages of development, from exploration to closure;
- Working with our communities of interest to address legacy issues, such as orphaned and abandoned mines;
- Respect human rights and treat those with whom we deal fairly and with dignity;
- Respect the cultures, customs and values of people with whom our operations interact;
- Recognize and respect the unique role, contribution, and concerns of Aboriginal people (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) and indigenous people worldwide.
Think of these principles as a kind of compass for a mining operation to follow. Those guiding principles are supported through the implementation of the 23 indicators, mentioned above. Each of these indicators is assigned a letter grade from C to AAA.
Additionally, members submit to an external verification process. This happens every three years when an objective third party steps in to review the operations. Those reviews are certified through a Letter of Assurance issued from the CEO’s office.
Due to the importance of this program, the Mining Association of Canada offers extensive training in TSM compliance. This means that every operation is provided with the exact same level of skill sets required to get this program up and running.
The goal of every member is to achieve a rating of Level A. At that level, the mining company has proven that it is keeping those practices that support the environment at the forefront of their operation.