Xstrata Copper is the fourth largest global CLICK TO VIEW THE BROCHUREcopper producer in the world. One of the major commodity business units within global diversified mining group Xstrata plc., Xstrata Copper hosts operations and projects in eight countries and has an annual attributable production capacity of over one million tonnes. The unit is headquartered in Brisbane, Australia but is administered by five separate divisions that are based close to the mining operations: North Queensland, Minera Alumbrera, North Chile, Southern Peru, and the Canada division. Xstrata also operates a recycling business with plants in the United States and offices in Asia and Canada.
Kidd Mine, located in Timmins, Ontario has been in operation since 1965 and has a history all on its own. Kidd Mine initiated ore production from a depth of 8,800 feet (2,725m) in 2007 – making it the deepest base metal mine in the world. It is a strong economic driver for the local economy, and Xstrata Copper’s overall development strategy. The Mine prides itself on a strong safety record and solid culture.
A long history of strong employee culture
Through it’s purchase of Falconbridge, Xstrata assumed control of Kidd Mine in 2006. Tom Semadeni, General Manager of Kidd Mine was with Falconbridge for 20 years, and became the General Manager at the mine in 2007. Semadeni is also responsible for Xstrata’s Canadian Exploration program.
Currently, the Mine employs 550 people full time, and also uses about 450 outside contractors. “There’s a long history of culture. When Xstrata purchased Kidd Mine, it already had a very strong commitment to the sustainable side of the business – under the elements of health safety, environment and community. This commitment has grown stronger under Xstrata management. Xstrata demonstrates sustainability through a high level of governance.”
Xstrata Copper maintains a “zero harm” policy for all corporate employees, as health and safety is number one on the company’s list of priorities. The Xstrata Safety and Health Policy includes key elements: responsible leadership, skills and safety training, risk management systems, safe work procedures, effective investigations, regular audits, employee health screening, and continuous measurement and communication of safety performance.
Keeping the mine safe
The policy is affective for all employees with Kidd Mine, meaning that contractors are expected to adhere to policies and procedures in the same way that permanent staff will. “Xstrata has the commitment to make sure even people who aren’t directly under the company’s control fall under the same mandate. It was a philosophical shift when the mine was purchased by Xstrata – we expect the same level of control and safety from our contractors as anyone else. In fact, we don’t differentiate between contractor safety statistics and our own employees. We report one result- site results.”
Semadeni has good reason to mention the Mine’s safety rating: “In the last 27 of 35 years, Kidd Mine has won either a provincial or national safety award, for a total of 50 awards won in Canada in 35 years. In 2007, we achieved a 40% reduction in disabling injuries relative to 2006, and this year we’ve achieved a 90% reduction in these injuries when compared to 2007. I’d say that’s a testament to how safe we are.”
“Kidd Mine is a leader in safety performance.”
The company also uses a safety model called PASS – the Positive Attitude Safety System (see aside). The System was started in Australia but quickly became popular with Canadian companies. The general idea behind PASS is that everyone on the floor, from mine management to contractors to miners themselves monitor, moderate, and inform each other of safety practices. Everyone is responsible to everyone else – much like a firefighter’s system. “PASS is a bottom-up system, it’s not an imposed system and employees are empowered to take care of themselves, and of their coworkers. The employees structure meetings every day and discuss what they did well in terms of safety the day before, what they could do better and how they rate – was it a weak, average, or great safety day.”
“Our strong safety record is a result of a high degree of involvement from employees working in an environment of high expectation.”
The Mine has a joint health and safety committee, as do most mining operations, but they also have a “joint body group” – each of the Mine’s crews have a safety representatives.
Monitoring safety at the ground level
“We have 35 safety reps on the floor every day, safety champions, and we all look out for each other. The safety reps they have extra training, and are involved with investigating any injury or incident that occurs. The key to our safety initiatives that has reduced our incidence of disabling injuries is that the system is management –led, but employee driven. The safety system is well communicated and understood.”
“We put a lot of effort into communicating with our people here, and building culture. We have an open door policy and strive to be fair and transparent. This approach is appreciated by everyone at the site and I’m sure is a large part of the reason that we are able to maintain a non-unionised site.”
Semadeni adds: “Kidd Mine started as an open pit, but has gone through many changes and provided significant economic sustainability for Timmins since the 60s. We owe it to ourselves and to our community to keep workers safe. We want people to continue to be proud to work at Kidd Mine. We’ve had people leave to work elsewhere, and come back because they feel more comfortable working in our safety conscious culture."
Sister operation to the Kidd Mine is the Kidd metallurgical site, located 27 kilometres from the mine, which processes both company-sourced and purchased feeds. Currently approximately 50% of its feed is acquired from third parties. The metallurgical site consists of a concentrator processing the copper-zinc ore from the Kidd Mine and the copper-nickel ore from Xstrata Nickel’s Montcalm Mine. It also has a copper smelter and refinery, a zinc plant, and cadmium, indium and sulphuric acid by-product plants.
Kidd Mine not only boasts a fantastic safety rating, but also a strong environmental commitment. This commitment is perpetuated throughout Xstrata Copper operations all over Canada. The company intends to be a leader in the Canadian mining industry for environmental performance and is committed to meeting or exceeding relevant laws, regulations and standards.
Xstrata Copper is the world’s largest recycler of copper and precious metal bearing electronic scrap, and Xstrata sees their recycling business as an important contribution to sustainable development goals. As the use of electronic equipment increases, volume of electronic waste has become a serious environmental concern. Xstrata Recycling helps provide a solution by doubling electronic scrap recycling capacity at its Horne smelter in Canada.
Semadeni explains that the Mine follows the lead of Xstrata Copper when it comes to the environment:
“We are continually reducing waste, practicing progressive reclamation of the site, and training our people to operate in an environmentally friendly way.” Kidd Mine is an ISO14001 site – meaning that there is a management structure in place capable of producing excellent environmental results. Kidd Mine is independently audited for environmental certification every year.
Under Xstrata’s sustainability program, Kidd Mine has a Community Partnership Program that promotes the mine’s standing within the community, including involvement with local hospitals, education programs, and offering presentations at local schools to talk about mining. Kidd Mine has also started a community employee recognition program, which supports employees who are involved in a group in the community. Employees can apply for grants on their chosen organization’s behalf, and the program has been successful so far. Despite recent economic turmoil, Semadeni is optimistic about business in 2009:
“In 2008 we focused on improving the level of control in all facets – in safety, the environment, and involvement in the community. When you improve control, you can improve the operating or production reliability of the business. The outlook for 2009, therefore, is a positive one. If we continue to improve our safety, production reliability and environmental performance, then we can count on a good year. People like to play for a winning team – so even in the current tough recruiting and retention environment, we know we can attract and retain talent and continue to work on sustaining our business.”