Moving Beyond Basic ESG Compliance
The last few years have been transformative for Altaley Mining Corp. With Campo Morado achieving commercial production in June 2020 and Tahuehueto coming online in March, we are transforming from a junior miner into an emerging midtier Mexican mining company.
Randy Smallwood, CEO of Wheaton Precious Metals, told Mining.com that “mining companies in general have done a very good job on their ESG issues. However, they have failed to disclose them,” (1) and Altaley fits this mold.
Altaley has always believed that to succeed as an organization, we must deliver lasting economic and social benefits to our stakeholders and to the communities where we work. We follow strict safety and health standards and practices that meet or exceed industry standards and applicable government codes and we have met or surpassed all applicable environmental legislation, regulations, permit and license requirements. We have, however, never really publicized it, but all of this is changing.
The Evolution of ESG
The pressure to take social and environmental responsibility seriously began with a push from environmental groups and local communities to minimize the negative environmental, social, and economic impacts associated with mining and processing activities.
This pressure has intensified exponentially as socially responsible investors and banks increasingly demand proof of action. Modern-day investors now screen out risk by evaluating a project's Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices. And mining companies that do not embrace ESG practices will struggle to access capital.
According to Scotiabank mining specialist Bonita To, “over the past two years, investors have increasingly engaged in responsible investment practices, which together represent around US$303 trillion of the world’s investment.”
PWC stresses that ESG cannot just be an add-on; it must be part of your business strategy. It can enhance operational efficiencies and raise your company’s profile, ultimately attracting capital, customers, and top talent.
Whether you are a minimalist, pragmatist, strategist, or trailblazer, ESG regulations are here to stay and will continue to evolve. Company ESG strategies will no longer be “nice to have,” they will be compulsory.
Transforming Our ESG Program
Although mining is not the first industry that comes to mind when looking for ESG investments, Altaley Mining actively works to change that notion. We believe that ESG awareness and compliance is now an imperative to maximize the benefits of mining and metal production.
We are progressively incorporating ESG policies into our projects and it is a priority at board and executive leadership level. Altaley has made ESG part of its core business, as the foundations of our projects have been developed with continued engagement of third-party stakeholders, especially local communities.
What We Do
At Altaley, we embrace good environmental, social and governance practices, giving confidence to customers and stakeholders that our metals have been produced responsibly.
Altaley is committed to sustainable development and continuous improvement at our Campo Morado and Tahuehueto mines. Even though we do not currently have a formal ESG management system in place, we have laid the groundwork by implementing sustainability-focused policies and procedures.
The company developed a holistic set of good practices for responsible mining that encompasses business ethics, respect for human rights, community engagement, and health and safety measures for our workforce. We also actively take steps to avoid any social and environmental impacts from our work.
Campo Morado and Tahuehueto
Campo Morado is our fully operational underground polymetallic mine in Guerrero state. It is currently the sixth-largest zinc concentrate producer in Mexico, and since acquiring Campo Morado in 2017, Altaley has been committed to responsible mining.
Altaley’s procurement and local hiring policies have been adopted to ensure that benefits flow to the communities and regions surrounding both projects.
In 2021, operations at Campo Morado generated MX$1,727,654 (US$84,000) in municipal taxes and paid CAD$2,262,422 (US$1.8 million, 2021) in royalties to Servicio Geologico Mexicano. The company contributed MX$51,450,222 (US$2.5 million) to the local economy, and with a commitment to local procurement, Campo Morado operations conducted MX$272,944,136 (US$13.2 million) worth of business with 82 companies from nine different communities in Guerrero state.
Currently, Campo Morado employs approximately 490 people, including 34 women. We have 291 direct employees, 89 on contract, and 110 employed indirectly. We are proud that Mexican nationals make up 61 percent of our growing workforce.
Altaley continues to train and hire local personnel in various mining skills at Campo Morado.
Recently, we trained five women in underground drilling techniques, two with long-hole drilling equipment and three with small-diameter exploration core drilling. Altaley also hosted a training session on the operation of the underground scoop-tram load mucker equipment.
The policies and procedures Altaley developed and implemented for Campo Morado will also apply to our new gold mine in Durango state. Expected to be completed in March 2022, Tahuehueto looks to be one of the Top 3 or 4 high-grade gold producers in Mexico. The mine also has the potential to become an important economic contributor to its nearby communities and to Durango state.
Altaley’s contributions go beyond job creation, tax generation, and royalty payments. We also maintain direct communication with the government and local communities. This ongoing cooperative dialogue guides us in encouraging and supporting local development and initiatives that directly benefit the communities.
In 2021, Campo Morado contributed MX$3,500,000 (US$169,000) to social programs benefiting 23,616 residents in surrounding communities. Our ongoing commitments include maintaining and improving roads and facilitating access to medical attention and supplies, including medicine and vaccines. The company also donates diesel fuel, construction materials, and supplies needed for local building projects.
Recently, Campo Morado provided equipment to dig and install a water well and septic field for the nearby rural federal primary school, Lazaro Cardenas in the San Miguelito community. We also arranged for the smoothing and flattening of a sports field at Varal.
While the Tahuehueto Mine was under construction, Altaley actively supported numerous community initiatives and will continue to expand our programs once fully operational. The company helped local authorities establish and equip the first school and medical clinic in the area. We also maintained the air strip and helped support local infrastructure with electricity, water supply and filtration systems, and sanitation improvements.
So, What’s Next?
Altaley is focused on creating transformational wealth for our shareholders while committing to the high standards of environmental stewardship and maximizing social and economic benefits to the communities in which we live and operate.
Environmental: We are actively working toward implementing green energy at Campo Morado and are analyzing proposals to install solar power to supplement the operation’s existing energy demand.
At Tahuehueto, we plan to generate energy with natural gas instead of diesel to reduce carbon emissions. We are also exploring the potential use of solar powered energy generation.
Social: Altaley will continue to invest in sustainable, community-driven projects and initiatives at both Campo Morado and Tahuehueto that will long outlast the life of our mines.
We recognize the importance of investing in the future and will continue to support initiatives that focus on education and the health, wellness, and well-being of our communities.
We will continue to provide training and personal development opportunities to our employees and remain focused on expanding our workforce through the hiring and training of local men and women.
As a publicly traded company, Altaley's pursuit of sustainable development is guided by the high standards of transparency and corporate governance set out by the Toronto Stock Exchange.
We believe that strong governance practices are critical to our success and have developed numerous policies that ensure a robust and transparent corporate governance framework while adhering to the highest standards.
Altaley is working toward the corporate standardization of our ESG programs across both properties. We are also exploring the creation and publication of an annual Sustainability Report.
Follow along as we evolve through our ESG journey.