Partnering with communities for environmental protection

April 10, 2019
baker-lake

The Baker Lake landfill cleanup is one small but important step in reducing human impact on the Nunavut tundra.

Nearly 23,000 plastic bottles were collected with the help of the Pinos Altos and Creston Mascota team in 2018 through different initiatives aimed at reducing plastic pollution at their mine sites and surrounding communities.

At home and at work, we are increasingly aware of all the waste and plastic pollution we generate in a day.

In order to raise awareness and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill, Agnico Eagle works closely with local communities to alleviate the problem through various waste management, recycling and disposal initiatives.

Our Pinos Altos-Creston Mascota environmental team spearheaded a number of initiatives to reduce the amount of plastic used at their mine sites and surrounding communities, including an ECO-HOME awareness campaign in Bateria de Rodriguez. The campaign highlighted how much plastic is generated on a daily basis by the community, how each home can reduce that amount, and outlined Pinos Altos Mine’s weekly program to collect plastic materials and deliver them to a local company for proper processing and recycling.

Paola Cazares, Health Safety and Environment Manager, comments, “Our team helped collect nearly 23,000 plastic bottles during 2018, including over 10,000 bottles around our mine site. I think we made a real difference in helping to change community attitudes about the impact of plastic pollution on our planet. It made all of us more aware about the need to act differently in order reduce the amount of plastic we use in our daily work and home lives.”


BY THE NUMBERS

The Baker Lake cleanup team prepared and shipped:

  • 37 20-foot long marine containers holding hazardous waste including 1,545 205-litre metal drums loaded onto the barge and consisting mainly of: used diesel, used jet fuel, used gasoline, used oil, oily water or hydrocarbons contaminated water, automotive lead batteries, used glycol or anti-freeze, empty propane tanks with residue, used paint
  • 8 20-foot long marine containers with used tires
  • 8 20-foot long marine containers holding scrap metal

A world away, the community of Baker Lake in Nunavut faced many of the same waste problems.

With limited space to dispose of old tires, broken appliances, empty oil drums and other hazardous waste materials, the community landfill site was becoming more and more contaminated. They asked Meadowbank mine, their neighbour, to help conduct a landfill cleanup in July.

Together, they eventually filled up 53 marine containers (seacans) with waste, including 37 containers holding over 370 tonnes of hazardous waste. The seacans were loaded onto a barge at Baker Lake and shipped south to the Port of Bécancour, Quebec. From there, the containers were transported to an authorized recycling and treatment centre – for eventual recycling or use as back-up fuel to generate electricity in thermal power plants.

Frank Tootoo, Chair of the Baker Lake Lands Committee, says, “Cleaning up the landfill is important to us for many reasons, mainly because our eco-system is so fragile. We want to reduce our environmental impact even more through reuse and recycling and Agnico Eagle has advanced our knowledge in this area, sharing how they are reducing their own footprint.”

Steven Tremblay, General Supervisor of the Energy and Infrastructure Department at Meadowbank Mine, adds, “Many of our employees live in Baker Lake, so the community is not only our neighbour but a member of our family. And, if cleaning up the landfill site is important to them, it’s important to us. We understand that this work is vital to protecting the fragile environment we all live in.”