Out of the Norm

For most people, a mine is the last thing you would think of as being environmentally friendly. Ask environmentalists and they will happily tell you that mines are second only to pipelines as potential environmental disasters.

Enter the Mining Association of Canada – and Argentina.

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) has developed a set of mining standards that other countries are noticing – and are adopting. Towards Sustainable Management (TSM), launched in 2004, is a program that tests mining operations on tailings management, Aboriginal and community outreach, health and safety, biodiversity conservation, crisis management, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions management.

Shared freely by the MAC, the first foreign country to accept the TSM standard was Finland. Now Argentina has become the second with a recent announcement by Cámara Argentina de Empresarios Mineros (CAEM), the national mining association in Argentina.

Marcelo Alvarez, CAEM’s president said in an interview: “By adopting TSM, we are committing to raise the standards of our industry. TSM will help us become more transparent and earn the confidence of Argentinian society. It is a first step towards building a solid, responsible mining sector capable of achieving its full potential.”

Pierre Gratton, president and CEO of MAC, added: “We are honoured that Argentina has chosen TSM as the vehicle to drive environmental and social performance in its mining sector, and are proud of TSM’s increasingly global reach. Exporting Canada’s expertise in sustainable and responsible mining practices is one important way that we can contribute to improving mining performance around the world.”

As part of the agreement, CAEM will be completely transparent with its findings. MAC points out that if the TSM standards are to have credibility, the findings must be open to public scrutiny and will be verified by outside experts every three years.

In Canada as well as in Finland and Argentina, the TSM process is ultimately overseen by an external panel of industry experts who will review and report on all findings.

Mining companies and associations – led by organizations such as MAC – are proving that mining around the world has entered the 21st century. New technologies and new methods of operating are making the mining industry one to watch when it comes to the environment – and for all the right reasons.