Overview: Environment a top priority
Environmental stewardship is an important topic at Inco. “There has been a real shift in our thinking and actions at every level of the organization,” says Bill Napier, Inco’s vice-president of environment and health. “We all recognize that handling the environmental aspects of our business appropriately is key for us to survive into the next century.”
In response, Inco now employs certain fundamental principles in the way it conducts its business. For example:
: For every new project or operation, the company will attempt to reduce the size of the project’s footprint. This will involve keeping its activities within a physically small area, ideally where the ore zones are located.
: The company recognizes that, to proceed with new projects and continue with existing operations, it has to maintain its social licence to operate. Residents in communities where it operates or proposes to operate, who have concerns, must be heard, and Inco will try to address those concerns.
For example, as part of the company’s environmental impact statement for the Goro project, more than 1,000 residents near the project were surveyed. A major concern that they expressed was potential impacts on whales found in the bay where the port will be located. As a result, the study of whales was added to the environmental impact review, and mitigation plans for ships will be developed.
: An ongoing objective for Inco is to reduce air emissions and water effluent from its existing operations. Its work is twofold: first to develop and implement mitigation strategies to reduce emissions and effluents, and second to ensure that its emissions and effluents do not cause harm to the adjacent ecosystems.
: Mining is viewed now as a temporary use of the land. Inco integrates reclamation principles in its planning, and undertakes progressive reclamation during operations. Environmental considerations have been foremost in the planning for Goro and Voisey’s Bay. The company is also taking seriously its responsibilities when closing operations.
“Of course, at the end of the day, we are in business to make money,” says Scott Hand, Inco’s CEO. “But we’re also in communities dealing with people and we have obligations to them–and that too is a very big part of who we are as a company.”