Our commitment to sustainability

Mining and energy companies use a range of terms to describe their approaches to:

  • Ensuring the safety and health of their employees and communities
  • Protecting the environment
  • Interacting with a wide range of stakeholders
  • Providing benefits to local communities
  • Respecting human rights
  • Establishing respectful and productive relationships with all levels of government
  • Ensuring the survival of a viable business

At Sherritt, “sustainability” covers these interrelated and increasingly important aspects of our business.

We are committed to providing a safe and rewarding workplace, operating ethically, demonstrating environmental responsibility, engaging stakeholders and benefitting communities. We will meet or exceed the standards where we operate and continuously improve performance.

This commitment underpins our aspiration to be a recognized industry leader in sustainability management and performance.

Governance

Our Board of Directors and management team are critical to carrying out our commitment to sustainability.

Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors has delegated responsibility for sustainability-related matters to the Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability (EHS&S) Committee of the Board. The Committee’s mandate is to oversee, monitor and review sustainability policies, management systems, programs and performance.

Specific areas of focus for the Committee include environment, health, safety, security, crisis management, community development, stakeholder engagement, indigenous relations, government relations, business integrity, human rights, and employee engagement and development.

This Committee meets four times per year, visits all operations regularly, and receives information from corporate and operations management on a quarterly basis, or more often if required. The Committee Chairperson reports to the Board on significant issues. Refer to this link to review the full mandate of the EHS&S Committee.

Management Structure

In our Toronto head office, we have two sustainability-related roles at the management level: Director, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability (CA&S) and Director, Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S). The Director, CA&S is responsible for coordinating community relations, community investment, government relations, human rights and security, crisis management and the integrated enterprise sustainability management system. The Director, EH&S is responsible for health, safety and environmental matters. Reporting to our Chief Operating Officer (COO), both positions develop strategy and standards, oversee performance and reporting, and assist our operations in the identification and management of material sustainability aspects, issues and risks. They work closely with operations management to ensure a practical and coordinated approach to sustainability is in place across our business interests.

Each of our major operating businesses is led by a Senior Vice President (SVP), who also reports to our COO. The SVPs are accountable for all operational matters of their respective businesses, including sustainability. To ensure ongoing and timely management of this broad discipline, we have senior employees at each operation with responsibility for health and safety, security, environment, and sustainability functions. Specific site-level roles and team structures vary, based on the operating environment and related risks.

“My fellow EHS&S Committee Members and I had the opportunity to visit all of Sherritt’s operating sites in 2015. We are great believers in getting on to the ground to really understand the issues and complexities of each operation. These visits allow us to monitor progress, support and encourage management’s commitment to excellence in all aspects of sustainability, and identify opportunities for improvement, with particular emphasis on health and safety performance. From what I have seen firsthand, I am proud of the work Sherritt’s management team is doing to maintain and strengthen the company’s social license.”

– Tim Baker, Chair, Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability Committee of the Board

Sustainability Framework

We uphold our commitment to sustainability through our sustainability framework, which provides a focused and practical approach to prioritizing sustainability issues, risks and opportunities, and to managing performance. The framework consists of a core commitment to sustainability and a series of issue-specific commitments, which fall under the four pillars below: Providing a Safe and Rewarding Workplace, Operating Ethically, Demonstrating Environmental Responsibility, and Engaging Stakeholders and Benefitting Communities. Our commitments are supported by an integrated management system that sets company-wide standards for planning, implementation, measurement, reporting and assurance of sustainability efforts.

Providing a Safe and
Rewarding Workplace
Health and Safety
We are committed to zero harm. Zero harm means zero fatalities, no injuries and no work-related illnesses among employees and contractors.
Public Safety
Maintain public safety around our sites through effective risk management, active communication and ongoing community engagement.
Rewarding Workplace
Provide a rewarding workplace that engages and develops our workforce, compensates workers competitively, and offers them exposure to world-class operations, projects, processes and people.
Operating
Ethically
Business Ethics
Foster a culture and environment that support and require ethical conduct.
Human Rights
Operate our business in a way that respects human rights as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Demonstrating
Environmental Responsibility
Tailings Management
Design and operate all tailings management facilities – throughout the mine lifecycle – to meet or exceed applicable regulatory and company standards.
Biodiversity and Land
Achieve no net loss, or preferably a net gain, of biodiversity for greenfield projects and significant expansions of current operations; and practice progressive reclamation as part of normal operations at all mines, working with local jurisdictions.
Water
Manage water responsibly by optimizing water use, addressing water-related risks to future operational viability and growth, and engaging communities on the use of, and impacts to, shared water resources.
Energy and Climate Change
Monitor and track energy use and greenhouse gas emissions at each site and identify opportunities to reduce impact; and understand and mitigate the potential impacts of climate change on our assets.
Engaging Stakeholders
and Benefitting Communities
Stakeholder Engagement
Engage stakeholders early on and throughout the asset lifecycle; and build enduring relationships based on mutual trust, respect and transparency.
Transparency
Provide stakeholders with timely and accurate information on the impacts and benefits of our mining-related activities and management practices.
Community Benefits
Contribute to a lasting improvement in quality of life in the communities where we operate.

Management Systems

While Sherritt’s divisions historically developed their own management systems to address sustainability, we are now moving towards an enterprise-wide approach. This shift involves developing an integrated system that consists of a series of sustainability standards for the entire company. These standards are developed collaboratively with the corporate office and the divisions. Given the innate differences of the operating environments in Canada, Cuba and Madagascar, the divisions are afforded flexibility in the way in which they implement these standards.

Specific requirements in the standards reflect our experience, our risk profile and industry best practice. We endeavour to align with the requirements of the Mining Association of Canada’s (MAC) Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) protocols. (Since we do not have any mining properties within Canada, we have elected not to be a MAC member at this time, which is why we do not report externally on TSM conformance.) As a member of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHRs) Initiative, we are working to apply the Principles at our sites. We are also a Supporting Company of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the requirements of which we apply in Madagascar, an EITI Candidate Country. Our approach to crisis management is informed by the Incident Command System (ICS) and the United Nations’ Awareness and Preparedness of Emergencies at the Local Level (APELL) Programme. In Madagascar, our biodiversity management program aligns with the principles of the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP).

We are carrying out a multi-year plan to develop and implement the following corporate standards for sustainability management:

Air Management
Anti-Corruption
Biodiversity and Land Management
Community Investment
Crisis Management
Energy and GHG Emissions
Fatality Prevention
Grievance Management
Health and Safety
Indigenous Relations
Mine Closure
Security and Human Rights
Significant Potential Incidents
Stakeholder Engagement
Tailings Management
Waste Management
Water Management

Materiality

In 2015, we updated our assessment of the material (priority) sustainability aspects of our business. This process involved reviewing our existing materiality aspects and revising the list to reflect the current context, and analyzing each aspect based on a range of sustainability risks, trends and opportunities that are relevant to Sherritt, based on two criteria: the level of expected impact to our business and the degree of stakeholder interest. The prioritized list of material aspects was informed through discussions with senior management and other employees, and publicly available information on the priorities and viewpoints of key external stakeholder groups, including:

  • Investors
  • Opinion influencers (non-governmental organizations, academics, think-tanks)
  • Industry associations
  • Communities
  • Government/Regulators

(We give significant consideration to stakeholder perspectives and input in our decision-making process. Read more about our approach to stakeholder engagement here.)

The sustainability aspects with the highest combined ranking of expected business impact and stakeholder interest are considered “material” for Sherritt and are addressed through our sustainability framework and management system. These aspects were validated by senior management.

The following table maps our 2015 material issues against the four pillars of our sustainability framework and details the boundary of impact for each material issue.

Pillar Material Issue Issue Boundary
(Internal/external)
Where do the impacts occur?
Who is the issue material to? Where is the issue most material
(by operation)?
Providing a Safe and Rewarding Workplace Health and Safety Internal
  • Employees/contractors
  • Government (regulators)
All Sherritt operations
Public Safety Internal/external
  • Employees/contractors
  • Government (regulators, local authorities, first responders)
  • Communities
All Sherritt operations
Site Security Internal
  • Employees/contractors
  • Government (regulators, local authorities, first responders)
  • Communities
All Sherritt operations (focus at Ambatovy)
Labour Relations Internal
  • Employees/contractors
  • Communities (prospective employees)
All Sherritt operations
Operating Ethically Human Rights Internal/external
  • Employees/contractors
  • Communities
  • NGOs/civil society
  • Customers and suppliers
  • Government (regulators, local authorities, first responders)
All Sherritt operations
Economic Performance Internal/external
  • Financial community (shareholders)
  • Employees/contractors
  • Communities
  • Business partners
  • Governments (host jurisdictions)
All Sherritt operations, projects and potential acquisitions
Demonstrating Environmental Responsibility Land and Biodiversity Internal/external
  • Government (regulators)
  • Communities
  • NGOs/civil society
Ambatovy and Moa
Water Internal/external
  • Government
  • Communities
  • NGOs/civil society
All Sherritt operations
Environmental Liabilities, Closure and Reclamation Internal/external
  • Government (regulators)
  • Financial community
  • Communities
  • NGOs/civil society
All Sherritt operations
Tailings Management Internal/external
  • Government
  • Communities
  • NGOs/civil society
  • Financial community
Ambatovy and Moa
Energy and Climate Change Internal/external
  • Government (regulators)
  • Financial community
  • Communities
  • NGOs/civil society
All Sherritt operations
Engaging Stakeholders and Benefitting Communities Stakeholder Engagement Internal/external
  • Communities
  • Government
  • NGOs/civil society
All Sherritt operations
Community Development Internal/external
  • Communities
  • Government
  • NGOs/civil society
All Sherritt operations (focus at Ambatovy, Moa, OGP)
Economic Benefits Internal/external
  • Employees/contractors
  • Customers/suppliers
  • Communities
  • Government
All Sherritt operations

Most material aspects did not change from our last assessment in 2012. A few key exceptions include:

  • The materiality of economic performance, always a central aspect for any business, increased because of the significant decline in the price of the products we produce (namely, nickel, cobalt, oil and electricity).
  • Site security and environmental liabilities have been identified as important aspects for inclusion within the sustainability management system, due to evolving stakeholder expectations and site-level risks for Sherritt.
  • Climate change is included as a material aspect, given increasing societal concern, evolving business focus on this issue, and efforts of governments to address and regulate this issue.