Minimizing Mining’s Impact on Biodiversity
As the mining industry explores in progressively more remote regions of the world, we are often surrounded by pristine landscapes, native biodiversity, and sensitive ecosystems.
For years, Agnico Eagle and others who mine in northern areas have gathered baseline information on these rare species and habitats – mainly at the project stage, prior to the start of mining activities. However, there are still gaps in our collective knowledge about the impacts of the different stages of mine life on biodiversity, as well as the cumulative impacts of mining and other current environmental influences, such as climate change, on northern biodiversity.
That is why Agnico Eagle is partnering with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) on its Industrial Research Chair on Nordic Biodiversity in a Mining Context at the University du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT).
The Chair’s research project got underway in 2017, with a mission to increase knowledge of northern biodiversity in order to “develop strategies to reduce the effect of mining development throughout its life cycle on northern biodiversity.”
The main objectives of the project are to: understand footprints over the mine life cycle and impacts on biodiversity; avoid risks for biodiversity; develop tools for ecological planning; and, enhance understanding of key species and climate change.
Specifically, Agnico Eagle is providing access to four of our sites in the Abitibi region so that researchers can study mines at different life cycle stages:
- Akasaba-West, a project still to be developed;
- LaRonde, an active mine site;
- Lapa, a site in its closure phase; and,
- Joutel, a closed and partly restored site.
Our site personnel will provide support for the project over the next five years, as researchers gather data and conduct analysis. LaRonde Mine is also financing a four-month Mitacs (non-profit research organization) scholarship to provide research talent to the project.
Josée Noël, a biologist and Agnico Eagle’s Project Leader for Mining Reclamation says, “This research will be of great value to Agnico Eagle. It will help us assess biodiversity and mitigate potential impacts at all stages of our mining projects, from exploration through impact assessment, project planning and permitting, to operation. Better assessing impacts early in project life will help ease closure and post-closure, and potentially reduce associated costs. The results will also provide valuable information for the closure of our operating mines. All this is in line with Agnico Eagle’s commitment to sustainable development.”