Stewards of the environment
We aim to be stewards of the environment and the natural resources under our responsibility. Our sustainability policy requires that we build from a foundation of regulatory compliance with consistency in standards, practices and procedures worldwide. This means that our mines fully comply with all laws and regulations in the countries in which we operate and follow a strict integrated set of company guidelines with regard to the environment. Our primary aim is to control the impact we have on the environment and to ensure that we operate in harmony with our neighbors.
Reducing our environmental footprint and enhancing biodiversity
Many of our mines and quarries are located in regions of great natural beauty. Our ultimate goal therefore, is to return the land we disturb to its natural state and to have a zero net impact on biodiversity. Restoring biodiversity is key. The overburden, or sterile rock, that covers our open-pit mines is removed to designated areas where it is covered with local top soil and revegetated with endemic plant life. To help us, we engage local academics to advise us on cultivation techniques; the choice of species; where and when to plant; how to nurture and so on. This rehabilitation process is ongoing during the working life of a mine, to reduce the visual impact of the mine and ensure that the land can be restored quickly and more cost-effectively when the mine is eventually exhausted and has to be closed.
Conserving energy and water and reducing emissions
Our energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are relatively small compared to many other mining industries; however, mineral milling can be an energy-greedy business, particularly in today's world where the market push is towards ever-finer grades. Where possible, we use renewable energies such as hydroelectricity, solar panels and wind turbines to cover part of our energy requirements. Water use reduction is a focus at all of our operations. We are also progressively converting our plants from fuel oil to natural gas, which produces less sulfur and lower CO2 emissions. Pit water used to clean equipment is degreased in separation tanks and channeled into sedimentation ponds to remove suspended particles prior to discharge. At our processing plants, water is recycled back into the production circuit wherever possible.
All Imerys operations manage environment-related matters in a manner that is planned, controlled, monitored and recorded in compliance with an internationally acknowledged Environmental Management System. The majority are compliant with ISO 14001 standards.