Focusing on sustainability at MINExpo 2008: Caterpillar hosts global Health, Safety, Environment and Community Forum
MINExpo 2008, held Sept. 22-25 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, was the largest exhibition of mining equipment and services in the industry’s history. And while equipment and services took center stage throughout the event, the show’s sponsor and many of the exhibitors followed the industry’s lead and focused also on the important topics of Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC).
The National Mining Association (NMA), sponsor of the event, dedicated a number of its 20 MINExpo education sessions to important HSEC topics. Health and safety sessions covered issues such as promoting safety cultures with a goal of zero injuries in mines worldwide, and minimizing safety risks through equipment design.
Environmental topics included water management, waste management and air quality, including the future of biodiesel and its impact on emission reductions. Community topics included sessions on workforce planning strategies and training for the workforces of the future.
Hosting an industry-leading forum
One major exhibitor, Caterpillar Inc., dedicated a full day to an industry-leading HSEC Forum, held at Caesars Palace on the Saturday before MINExpo began. More than 400 mining company representatives, Cat® dealer representatives and HSEC experts attended the event, where they had the opportunity to gather with mining professionals from around the world; view displays from Cat customers, Caterpillar® divisions and industry experts; learn best practice solutions from other mining organizations; and engage in facilitated discussions addressing industry challenges. The HSEC Forum also was the site of the premiere of Cat’s new educational film, “Ground Rules: Mining Right for a Sustainable Future.”
“The challenges of community socio-economic development are frequently left to ‘community experts’ and social scientists to analyze,” said John Groom, former chief operating officer for the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). “The actual delivery of better results on the ground, at a mine site, usually falls to the mining professionals whose engineering skills are not necessarily the most appropriate. The Cat HSEC Forum presented a great opportunity to discuss mining and community development and related challenges with a ‘new’ audience of mining folk.”
Participants were welcomed by Caterpillar leaders Chris Curfman, president of Caterpillar Global Mining, and Sid Banwart, vice president of the company’s Human Services Division.
Banwart presented an overview of what Caterpillar is doing from a corporate perspective to support sustainable development and emphasized the company’s commitment. “Business, for a long time, was unsure of its role. Many felt that these problems were best left to governments, philanthropists and non-governmental organizations to solve. But leaders of successful companies see the need to be active partners in the sustainable development space — and they’re often driving the solutions.”
Specific projects currently under way at Caterpillar focus on holding water consumption flat, increasing energy efficiency, reducing waste with a goal of “zero waste to landfill,” and using Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria and green building standards for new building projects worldwide.
Curfman focused on ways Caterpillar partners with its customers in the mining industry to make sustainable progress possible — such as its partnership with BHP Billiton to develop autonomous technologies and products; and health- and safety-related projects like Work Area Vision System, Slow Speed Object Detection radar systems, new ground level maintenance centers on machines, and improved access and egress systems.
He pointed out the importance of Caterpillar’s investment in projects dedicated to bringing more sustainable products to market. “Ongoing research and development are critical to our ability to explore alternative fuel use, enhance machine safety, develop autonomous products and provide other solutions that enable customers to operate more sustainably,” Curfman said.
Educating the public
One of the highlights of Caterpillar’s HSEC Forum was the premiere of “Ground Rules: Mining Right for a Sustainable Future.”
The sequel to Cat’s popular “Common Ground” educational film, “Ground Rules” was produced to raise awareness of all that the mining industry is doing to operate sustainably. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of mined materials in modern, everyday life.
The film follows the development of a new mine as it works to become a model of sustainable practices. As a geologist and mine manager tackle the complex problems facing any new mine with creative solutions, they draw on the experiences and achievements of other mine sites around the globe to illustrate core concepts of sustainable development and social responsibility.
“We’re pleased to stand with the industry to educate the public about the vital role mining plays in everyday life,” said Curfman. “We thank the six companies that allowed us to poke and prod around their sites in order capture their stories.”
Sharing success stories
The HSEC Forum Gallery Walk was made up of 20 booths, each demonstrating best practices in the area of sustainable development.
“We designed the Gallery Walk to give our customers the opportunity to demonstrate how they, as industry leaders, shoulder global responsibility while supplying the raw materials essential for society’s progress,” says Dan Hellige, Caterpillar’s HSEC manager and coordinator of the forum.
Exhibitors included Caterpillar customers and non-governmental institutions, as well as Caterpillar groups focused on HSEC issues. Customers exhibited a wide variety of topics, including:
Biodiversity, Rio Tinto. The company highlighted its biodiversity strategy, which focuses on land management — first reducing and minimizing impact, then engaging in biodiversity offsets.
Managing Fatigue through Wellness and Education, Anglo American. This booth discussed the need for a multidisciplinary approach to fatigue management.
Risk and Opportunity Management, Newmont Mining Corp. The company highlighted its safety principles; management of health risks; and initiatives that help protect the environment.
Indigenous Workforce Training, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold. “Taking the high road to success” showcased how the company is developing an indigenous workforce, providing training, and developing current employees.
The Controlled Water Cart, Thiess. This booth highlighted how Thiess solved a problem of inconsistent water application on unsealed haul roads by developing a Controlled Water Cart, which reduces water usage and has a significant reduction on accidents caused by poor road conditions.
Courageous Leadership for Safety and Health, Barrick. This booth emphasized Barrick’s commitment to employee safety and health.
Building Community Relationships, Vale Inco. This booth focused on Vale’s improved communications with the community in Itabira, Brazil, and Inco’s efforts to become a neighbor of choice in Sudbury, Canada.
Booths were also presented by the ICMM, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Pew Center for Climate Change, and Opportunity International. In addition, Caterpillar presented exhibits covering Alternative Fuels, Object Detection, Operator Fatigue, Access/Egress and Materials Stewardship. The company’s new SAFETY.CAT.COM site also exhibited at the Gallery Walk.
Debating industry issues
The HSEC Forum’s Discussion Arena gave participants the opportunity to attend four professionally moderated “round table discussions,” where recruited experts debated issues and presented a variety of diverse and sometimes challenging viewpoints.
Moderated by a sustainability specialist and consultant, experts represented mining companies, NGOs, and Caterpillar.
Building community partnerships
“Developing Guidelines for the Sustainable Development Evaluation of Mining Projects — Local, Regional and National Scales,” focused on the state-of-play for sustainability guidelines and how mining companies can work in partnership with regulators and the local communities with the aim of maximizing corporate, national and community benefits, while at the same time minimizing the social and physical impacts.
Panelist John Groom of the ICMM emphasized that the industry must contribute to sustainable development. “There is no such thing as a sustainable mine,” Groom said. “But we supply vital materials and we simply have to operate. The mining industry must turn materials into other forms of capital that will last well beyond the life of the mine. We have to do this in an environmentally and socially responsible fashion. And we must demonstrate how it works at a national and local level, contributing to both countries and communities.”
“Research shows that countries that develop an integrated approach are the most successful in passing development down throughout other entities,” Groom continued. “Companies must be in partnership with the government and non-governmental organizations, and they must make sure those in authority have the skills to apply the mineral wealth.”
Co-panelist Luke Danielson, an environmental lawyer and principal of the Sustainable Development Strategies group, stressed that it is important to apply the mineral wealth throughout the country and into the local communities. “It doesn’t work to have an enormous wealth generator surrounded by a sea of poverty,” he said. “It also doesn’t work when mining companies attempt to solve just one problem — building a school, for example. This is part of the ‘company town’ model — a model that the industry is moving away from. The new model has moved from dependence to independence. Mining companies and communities must work as partners.”
Obtaining Vision Zero
Is it possible for mining companies to achieve zero injuries? The four members serving on the “Safety: Obtaining Vision Zero” discussion panel believe so.
“I work for a company that truly believes in a zero injury culture and that all injuries can be prevented,” said panelist Charles Doane, director of health and safety at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold. “We’ve had millions of hours without lost time injuries and this shows us zero is possible.”
This panel focused on the shared responsibilities necessary to ensure the safety and health of global mineworkers. The four panelists, all members of the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT), explored the safety continuum and the challenges of achieving it.
The discussion began with a short video prepared by Shell and the UK Energy Institute, outlining the steps in the “HSE Ladder,” a model that can be used throughout the industry. Companies move through these steps as they develop a culture where HSE can flourish:
Pathological — Who cares as long as we’re not caught?
Reactive — Safety is important; we do a lot every time we have an accident.
Calculative — We have systems in place to manage all hazards.
Proactive — Safety leadership and values drive continuous improvement.
Generative — (High Reliability Organizations) HSE is how we do business around here.
Panelist Jim Joy, professor and director of the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre (MISHC), stressed the importance of following the path. “You can’t skip a step,” he said. “You have to do them one at a time. And you have to line up your people with your activities.”
The panelists shared their companies’ journeys along this ladder, and all agreed it can be a long, slow process. “We’re not at the top yet,” said Alan Miskin, BHP Billiton’s fatal risk control manager. “We spend a lot of time and money but I don’t think we’re at the ‘preaching’ level. There is so much variance and you can slip from one level to another.”
Xstrata Coal’s Tony Egan shared a success story about a 20-year-old site purchased by the company that existed in the reactive state. About five years after the implementation of a safety system, Egan reports the site has developed a true safety culture.
“It took a lot of effort, but we went from a lost time injury frequency rate of 60 and a total recordable injury rate of 90, and within two years we got recordable injuries down to 10 and lost time to zero,” said Egan, the company’s manager of engineering systems and support.
Doane said Freeport-McMoRan was moving up the HSE ladder, then took a step back and re-evaluated priorities. “We were spending as much time trying to resolve a minor injury as we were on events where someone could have gotten killed, he said. “Now our primary efforts are centered on fatality prevention.”
Freeport-McMoRan also has found two key areas that lead to high performance in health and safety. “Without exception it requires active, visible leadership coupled with accountability,” said Doane. “If you don’t have these two aspects, you can’t succeed.”
Miskin agreed, but pointed out that leadership takes many forms. “Anyone can exercise leadership in health and safety,” said Miskin. “You can have a very passionate individual be the person who sweeps the floor. He can motivate the people around him and do things the right way and encourage change.”
The panelists have found that improving health and safety has had an added benefit to their companies — an increase in profitability. “At the same time we were building toward a safety culture, we also saw massive improvements in productivity, costs and attitude in our workforce,” said Egan.
Addressing climate change
There is growing global consensus that climate change is a reality, and that its cause is directly linked to the emission of greenhouse gases. Panelists in “The Reality of Climate Change: Are You Engaged” discussed the key issues that the mining industry must consider when developing strategies to address climate change, as well as how to best engage in this global debate.
Government, non-governmental and industry leaders are gearing up to offer new ways of reversing climate trends. Governments must decide how they will continue not only to maintain but to increase their standard of living while reducing the greenhouse gas footprint, explained panelist Manik Roy, director of congressional affairs for the Pew Center for Climate Change. A number of options are being considered:
Voluntary programs. Roy says significant work has been done in this area, but the economy as a whole has not responded.
Federal subsidies for research, development and deployment. This option requires a bureaucracy to identify which technology is the best and to halt development of those not selected.
Command and control. Under this option, a government bureaucracy sets a limit on emissions and requires a specific technology be used to accomplish the reduction.
Cap-and-trade system. Under this system, governments set limits on emissions and the marketplace decides how to meet those limits. This solution shows the most promise, Roy maintains. Under cap-and-trade, companies reduce emissions either through improved efficiencies or by purchasing emissions from other companies.
Roy said that no matter what decisions are made on reducing carbon emissions, it’s extremely important for businesses — including those in the mining industry — to engage in the climate control debate.
Panelist Marcelle Shoop, Rio Tinto’s principal adviser for sustainable development and climate change, agreed. “The nature of our industry makes climate control critical,” she said. “We are looking at how we operate, how we deliver products to the marketplace, and government policies that address climate change.”
The key is using technologies to reduce emissions from coal, Shoop maintained, saying significant funding from the public sector is essential.
Peabody Energy’s Vic Svec agrees. “Coal is being used in increasing amounts, with about 75 nations developing coal plants right now, said Svec, Peabody’s senior vice president of investor relations and corporate communications. “Coal has been the fastest growing fuel in the world, and the world is continuing to use it.”
Development of new technologies is the answer to conducting business in a carbon-constrained world, said Svec. In China, Peabody is the only non-Chinese equity partner in the country’s US$1 billion “GreenGen” project — the first near-zero emissions coal-fueled power plant with carbon capture and storage in China. Peabody also is a partner in FutureGen, a similar project in the United States that has funding secured but is temporarily stalled while awaiting support from the next presidential administration.
Panelist John Disharoon, sustainable development manager at Caterpillar, stressed that reducing carbon emissions must be a global issue. “CO2 doesn’t know a zip code,” Disharoon said. “If the United States and Europe have strict standards, and China and India do nothing, there is no success. All nations, all economies, have to participate. The hope is that once they see our commitment, others will follow suit.”
Managing a sustainability-literate workforce
Panelists in the “Workforce Management: Skills Shortage & Development” session addressed the mining industry’s challenge in maintaining a healthy, skilled workforce — referenced in another article in this edition of Viewpoint. They also touched on the need to develop a workforce that is focused on sustainable development.
Katherine Madden of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, who serves as a manager responsible for implementing sustainable development, discussed the skill sets necessary for workers in the mining industry. “They need to be specialists and technicians,” said Madden. “But they also have to develop sustainability literacy. Everyone in the company needs to understand what sustainability is.”
Madden said it is necessary to make sustainable development “real” for employees. “It’s important to put it in everyday terms,” she said. “For example, take employees home and teach them about energy efficiency and why it’s important.”
As companies face challenges in finding and keeping their skilled workers, Madden explained that a focus on sustainability can be a differentiator that is useful in recruitment. “New graduates in particular want to work for a company that is sustainable,” she said.
Caterpillar’s Ed Cullen, manager of the company’s Global Manpower Development Division, agreed, pointing out a recent company online sustainability forum that addressed this important topic. “We had huge participation,” he said. “We had responses from more than 2,200 people in just 48 hours — and they came from all salary grades. They all want to be catalysts. They all want to make a difference.”
Another way to focus on sustainability in the workforce is by partnering with local authorities and providing indigenous people opportunities. For example, mining company Vale and the community of Itabira have grown together through the years. An effort to improve their co-existence led to a diagnosis of the relationship and the development of Coexistence and Strategic Action plans.
Vale agreed to increased dialogue and shared decision-making, involving employees, neighborhood leaders and local residents through committees, public meetings and gatherings. “We’re always working together to decide what is best for the company and the community,” said Marcelo Perpetuo, maintenance manager for the Southeast Ferrous Minerals Department at Vale.
Doing it right
Sustainability was top-of-mind as Caterpillar prepared and produced the materials for the HSEC Forum. The company used existing materials to construct the infrastructure of the Gallery Walk booths instead of creating booths specifically for this event. If exhibitors decided not to have their booths transported for re-use, Caterpillar made arrangements to have the materials recycled. All signage was made either from recycled or recyclable materials such as post-consumer waste plastic bottles, recycled paper and byproducts from the manufacture of cotton fabric.