While Julie Gelfand is pleased with IOC’s recent environmental recognition, she says the company still faces challenges with its Labrador operation.
The vice-president of environment and social responsibility says what used to be acceptable when the mine opened 50 years ago, is no longer accepted today.
“… What IOC is trying to do is take an old plant and make it a model of environmental sustainability, and decide how you can best economically change processes so that you are lessening any negative impacts on the environment.”
The Iron Ore Company of Canada was one of several mining companies that received recognition for their attention to the several key components, including: the communities in which they reside, the environment, and crisis management at this years Annual Mining Association reception.
On a scaling system which ranked companies either a C, B, A, AA, or AAA, with C being the lowest and AAA being the highest, the IOC mine in Labrador West received an AA rating.
“An A was considered a good performance for the mining industry,” said Ms. Gelfand. “That was the goal for every company, so anything more than that was above and beyond.”
Ms. Gelfand says that the Mining Association of Canada began its initiative of making companies think outside their gates after a survey in the late 1990s, where Canadians across the country were asked what their major concerns were with regards to the mining industry.
“The top issues were energy and greenhouse gas management, how mining companies manage crisis, and how well mining companies reach out beyond their gate to their respective communities,” she said.
After receiving the results of the survey, the Mining Association of Canada decided to develop protocols based on the main areas of concern that each company would have to meet in order to receive a good ranking.
Ms. Gelfrand says that as someone who worked diligently to establish laws to protect nature, she is impressed by how hard mining companies across the country are working to reduce their environmental footprint.
“I can tell you that I wouldn’t have joined a company that wasn’t already trying to do the right thing,” she said.
“The fact that I am even here in this position with IOC reflects that the company is trying its best to reduce their impact on the environment.”
Heather Bruce-Veitch, director of External Communications with the IOC, says that the award verified the work that the company has put into creating change and sustainability.
“IOC is very honoured to have received this recognition,” she said. “Sustainable development is at the heart of our business. We truly believe that it is our duty to meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations. At IOC we continue to look at ways to operate in a sustainable way, by giving back to the communities in which we operate and reducing our impact on the environment.”