In this series, we introduce you to the winners of Goldcorp’s Global Excellence Awards 2019. The Awards were launched in 2014 and are held every year to celebrate excellence and recognize achievements and successes made by individuals and teams across our organization who are thinking innovatively, finding ways to improve our business and supporting our vision of Together, Creating Sustainable Value.
Goldcorp’s Borden project, Canada’s first fully-electric underground mine, is widely recognized as a showcase for innovation and a harbinger of the future of mining. Turning this vision into reality encompassed leadership, operational excellence, stringent adherence to health and safety standards and strong community partnerships earning the Borden team the first Goldcorp Global Excellence Award in the new category of Overall Excellence and Innovation.
From the initial planning stages, formal mechanisms were established at Borden to connect and engage with the local community. Property damage protocols and feedback channels were introduced. Community events organized. Sponsorship initiatives launched, and regular updates provided to community groups and local media on project plans and progress.
To support local businesses and minimize the mine’s footprint, existing community infrastructure was used wherever possible. A deal was struck with a local auto parts store, for example, to manage the mine’s inventory in lieu of building a warehouse on site. Existing housing in the community was also used to accommodate out-of-town workers eliminating the need for a camp.
Specific measures were also taken to incorporate the views of First Nations communities on the project design with monthly or semi-monthly progress scheduled to support the formal consultation process. Traditional knowledge of native plant species was used during reclamation following exploration to restore disturbed areas to their natural state. The mine rockpile will be used as backfill underground with plans to return the area to a natural watershed.
Water quality is a prominent community concern. Working with First Nations partners, stringent measures were adopted to control stormwater runoff. The infiltration pond was designed to retain record rainfall for seven straight days before having to discharge. Once that point is reached, discharged water will be diverted north away from Borden Lake via a newly constructed culvert under the provincial highway.
Borden personnel closely monitor and test the mine’s water quality frequently. “In September 2017, an issue was noted before discharge and it took months before we could figure out what was happening,” noted Maarten van Koppen, Senior Project Engineer. “During that time, not a single drop of water was discharged until the issue was under control.” Sophisticated computer systems and sensors continuously monitor discharged water’s chemical content to protect aquatic life. If specific quality limits are reached, the pumps automatically shut down.
To reduce the mine’s impact on residents, surface infrastructure, such as offices, the maintenance garage, low-grade ore stockpiles and storage area, were moved away from Borden Lake as far north as possible, which helped minimize light and noise pollution and improved relations with cottage owners. The Borden team also worked closely with local First Nations to identify a suitable portal location on the side of a natural slope that points away from the lake. “We were able to design the ramp with minimal corners to the heart of the deposit,” said van Koppen. “Reducing corners is easier on equipment, easier to manage wireless equipment and ultimately safer for operators.”
By replacing all diesel mobile equipment with battery electric vehicles, Borden expects to reduce operating costs by over $9 million per year due to the elimination of approximately two million litres of diesel fuel, and with reduced ventilation needs, a corresponding decrease in propane and electricity required. When commercial production gets underway in the latter half of 2019, the mine expects to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 7,000 tonnes, or a 70% reduction over a baseline mine.
The elimination of diesel not only provides a safer work environment but also reduces the risk of hydrocarbon spills. Reducing air pollution benefits residents and wildlife particularly the elimination of diesel particulate matter which can land on snow and absorb heat from the sun contributing to climate change.
Van Koppen points out that using electric equipment doesn’t mean compromising on production. “The majority of decisions, from planning to operation, were made to ensure our all-in sustaining costs were kept around or below the $700 US/oz. mark. Borden is delivering as promised pretty well on schedule and under budget.”
Last year, Goldcorp signed a milestone Impact and Benefits Agreement (IBA) with three First Nation communities around the Borden project site with provisions for employment and training, business and contracting opportunities, along with a framework for regulatory permitting and revenue sharing.
Recognizing Borden as a leader in mining innovation and early adopter of clean technology, the Ontario government invested $5 million into the deployment of its all-electric fleet through its target greenhouse gas program. This was matched by a $5 million investment from the Canadian government funded by Natural Resource’s Canada’s Clean Growth Programme helping offset capital costs.
On numerous fronts, from working cooperatively with the community and First Nations, partnering with local businesses, teaming up with manufacturers to develop customized equipment, to protecting the environment, Borden exemplifies Goldcorp’s vision of Together, Creating Sustainable Value.