Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) Awards
Dominion Diamond Corporation purchased the Ekati Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories in 2013. Since that time, the company has worked to transform how waste is managed at the site to improve sustainability and limit environmental impacts. Various actions throughout the years have significantly reduced the mine’s waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and have inspired communities and other mining companies in the region to follow Dominion’s lead.
In 2013, Dominion started purchasing environmentally-friendly products for the mine, such as corn-oil based garbage bags, sugarcane take-out containers, and compostable disposable utensils to reduce the amount of chlorine-rich plastics in the waste incinerator. The company then restricted incineration to paper and organic waste and launched a two-year educational campaign for all staff on waste management and segregation. Items such as oily rags, glass, plastics, cans, and other recyclables are removed from the mine site and sent for recycling or proper disposal. These actions have prevented nearly 75,000 kilograms of plastics and 193,000 kilograms of oily rags from being incinerated, reducing emissions from the mine’s two incinerators into the environment and keeping them well below federal guidelines.
In 2015, Dominion installed an in-vessel composter—the first mine in Canada’s North to do so. Now, roughly half of organic waste generated at the Ekati mine is composted. By the end of 2016, more than 67,000 kilograms of organic waste has been diverted, reducing GHG emissions by 210 tonnes CO2 equivalent and diesel consumption by 74,000 litres. Thanks to the in-vessel composter, Dominion is often able to shut down one or both incinerators entirely, which has decreased scrubber water consumption by an estimated 25%. More recently, in 2016, Dominion launched a study to evaluate the use of site-generated compost in reclamation work as a means of adding nutrients to the processed kimberlite and to promote vegetation growth. If the study shows positive results, it will create a new opportunity to transform site-generated waste into a powerful tool in reclamation.