We recognise that our business depends on and impacts natural resources and we are committed to strong environmental stewardship across all our operations. By embedding environmental values into everything we do, we can deliver sustainable business growth, build and maintain regulatory and community trust, operate efficiently and provide value-add propositions to our customers and the communities where we work.
Our performance requirements and expectations for environmental practices across our global network of sites, supply chain and other operations requires us to identify and understand our key environmental risks and to proactively manage them to prevent or minimise impact to the environment.
Our key focus areas are managing our material environmental risks, shrinking our environmental footprint and progressing our legacy remediation obligations.
Material environmental risks
We purchase, manufacture, transport, and store hazardous materials in complex facilities globally. Eliminating loss of product events and managing our material environmental risks are foundational objectives that support our stewardship of natural resources. We aim to comply with relevant environmental legislation, licenses, and environmental consents across our global operations. We track a range of metrics and set targets in our annual Sustainability Reports to drive continuous improvement across the company.
Our environmental footprint
Management of freshwater resources continues to be a core focus area and is an issue that impacts directly on the communities in which we operate. While competition for water resources continues to increase globally due to multiple pressures (particularly climate change, population growth and pollution), we recognise the critical importance of water for community and ecosystem health.
Water is a raw material used in our products, within manufacturing and safety processes, and for site amenities. The water we use is drawn from surface water, ground water, potable water and recycled water sources. Our focus at all sites is on reducing our dependency on potable water to limit our impact on host communities and increase our resilience to water stress. We are aiming to achieve this by increasing the efficiency with which we use water and maximising our use of recycled water wherever possible.
We are also working to reduce waste generation and increase the proportion of waste that is diverted from landfill. We pursue our waste reduction goals by adhering to a site-based hierarchy of avoiding waste generation wherever possible, increasing reuse and recycling, and diverting wastes from landfill. For more information on our progress see our annual sustainability reports
Our major environmental (land and groundwater) contamination and remediation challenges are dominated by legacy issues from former chemical manufacturing activities, however there are some remediation requirements associated with ongoing manufacturing operations.
Our approach to managing environmental remediation is situationally dependent however it broadly includes:
- compliance with local regulations and guidelines as a minimum
- assessment and proactive management of risks to human health and the environment with interim controls
- remediation to permanently reduce risks to human health and the environment where required, considering the technical efficacy, logistical, financial and sustainability aspects of alternative approaches
- remediation of surplus land to enable divestment and reuse
- active involvement and consultation with key stakeholders including regulators, neighbouring sites and local communities.
We maintain a core group of environmental remediation experts who are responsible for our more challenging chemicals business legacy remediation projects, as well as providing support to Group SHES and regional SHES teams on remediation projects where necessary.
Sustainable commercial solutions
As a company, we are recognised by our customers as an innovative leader in blasting technology.
We believe we are uniquely placed to address our own environmental footprint and deliver commercially beneficial solutions for our customers that enable them to minimise their own environmental impact. Our portfolio of research and development projects are targeted at creating solutions to optimise the blasting process, delivering more productive, efficient, safer outcomes that also reduce the environmental footprint of our customers’ operations.
By working to understand our customers and their sustainability challenges, we can design and develop solutions that deliver commercial outcomes for Orica and enhanced sustainability outcomes for our customers. Safety, process efficiency and environmental performance are at the heart of our innovation process and are the priorities that are driving our focus toward digitisation, automation and increased use of data. Commercialising sustainable customer solutions is a fundamental element of our sustainability approach.
- Kevitsa mine
- Brownsburgh remediation
SUPPORTING DOWNSTREAM PROCESSING EFFICIENCY
The need for downstream processing can be reduced by optimising fragmentation during the blasting phase. We believe the best blast outcomes are achieved when design decisions are underpinned by robust, unbiased data.
FRAGTrack™ is a complimentary technology that supports our data-driven approach to blast optimisation. The state-of-the-art fragmentation measurement tool is designed to provide rapid insights into the outcome of the blasting process. The stereo vision camera systems provide automated high-quality fragmentation image analysis, allowing high performance in variable lighting, material colour, and textured environments. The system can be shovel or conveyor belt mounted to provide continuous particle size assessment at the dig face or at the conveyor.
The insights gleaned from FRAGTrack™ data enable engineers to adapt strategies to varied geological conditions, make targeted design modifications and immediately assess the effectiveness of each action.
Looking forward, Orica plans to conduct research aimed at quantifying the downstream emissions reductions that can be achieved through achieving optimal fragmentation outcomes.
INSIGHTS FROM KEVITSA, BOLIDEN GROUP FINLAND
FRAGTrack™ has been deployed at the Kevitsa nickel, copper, gold, platinum and palladium mine in Finland since 2016. Kevitsa identified fragmentation as a key performance indicator for several productivity improvement projects including optimising crusher settings and increasing powder factors.
The mine is located 150km north of the Arctic Circle, requiring a tough, automated system to provide the large data samples needed to assess the productivity improvement projects.
Two shovel units and one conveyor mounted system were installed in 2016. The shovel systems measured post-blast Particle Size Distribution (PSD) allowing engineers to assess and modify blast design. Meanwhile, the conveyor unit measured PSD of material leaving the primary crusher allowing crusher settings to be optimised.
Within the first 12 months, the two shovel systems collected over 30,000 images across 256 blasts and allowed engineers to adapt the blasting approach to specific geological domains. For example, the FRAGTrack™ data revealed that areas of high amphibole content yielded a 20 per cent coarser fragmentation when compared to equivalent blasts in lower amphibole content areas. This information allowed engineers to make targeted modifications, with FRAGTrack™ able to measure how effective each modification had been.
After adapting the blast design to the high amphibole geological conditions, Kevitsa achieved finer fragmentation better suited to processing.
TAILINGS DAM MONITORING PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT AND COMMUNITIES
Our slope stability monitoring business GroundProbe has been helping our customers respond and adapt to emerging risks and changing safety priorities.
Recently we have seen growing demand for our technology in the monitoring of tailings dams - an issue that has attracted global concern in the wake of several catastrophic failures. A tailings dam collapse can have devastating effects on people, communities and the environment and improving global tailings dam monitoring continues to be a key pillar of GroundProbe’s vision of maximum safety for the mining industry.
We have deployed custom monitoring solutions to dams across Brazil, Peru, Canada, Mexico, Australia and multiple African countries. Our proprietary radar and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technologies continuously scan a slope detecting the minute movements that precede a slope collapse event and issuing automatic alarms. Early warning allows for informed decision making, risk management and most importantly for the movement of people out of harm's way.
In 2020, as COVID-19 forced mine shutdowns around the world we saw an increase in demand for our remote monitoring services. GroundProbe’s Geotechnical Support Services is part of our ongoing commitment to building long-term partnerships with customers and allowed us to deliver safety-critical support during unexpected periods of restriction on site.
PHYTOREMEDIATION RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP AT BROWNSBURG, QUEBEC, CANADA
We have partnered with University of Montreal’s Institut de Recherche en Biologie Végétale to pilot an experimental program that uses plants and bacteria to remediate soil contamination. The project builds on the successful application of phytoremediation to a growing list of soil contaminants and reflects an industry shift toward in situ remediation that is often more efficient and reduces the risk of secondary contamination during transport.
Phytoremediation uses the capacities of certain plants to degrade, store or immobilize a variety of soil contaminants such as pesticides, explosives, hydrocarbons, and even heavy metals. This approach requires less initial investment, minimal maintenance once the process commences, and no noise nuisance while treating contaminated soils.
Phytoremediation not only works to clean up the environment, but also offers a whole range of services - depending on the location. For the Brownsburg site, this process will increase biodiversity, capture greenhouse gases, and preserve or improve the functional properties of the soil. It also improves the attractiveness of the site by enhancing the aesthetics of the landscape.
The project is expected to run for four years and provides Orica with an opportunity to build a mutually beneficial regional research partnership and demonstrate the significant co-benefits that accompany phytoremediation to the local community. The Institut will be able to share results with the scientific community, for broader industry benefit and application.