Environmental material topics
Environmental topics, such as energy, water, emissions, effluents & waste, compliance, and transport, are directly connected to how Boliden conducts its operations and whether it maintains stable processes that comply with permit requirements. Several topics are linked and impact Boliden’s overall performance and compliance. Other environmental topics, such as materials, biodiversity, closure planning, grievance mechanisms and supplier assessments constitute material topics as they impact external stakeholders, and determine Boliden’s license to operate and ability to develop the business. Reclamation work is also important and in 2018, Boliden completed reclamation work on 2 prioritized objects.
Materials are a fundamental topic and Boliden’s core business is mining (production of concentrates) and smelting (transformation of concentrates to base metals). Recycling of materials, e-scrap and batteries to maximize metal recovery are also important constituents of the circular economy.
Sustainable resource usage
Boliden extracts minerals and produces high-quality metals, which are mainly sold to industrial customers in Europe. Material stewardship is important to us, and care and consideration for people, society and the environment is a constant theme of all of our value chain activities – from exploration to customer deliveries.
Metal production is very energy intensive, both in the mining phase and in the refining processes. Boliden’s energy consumption is a major cost item, accounting for approximately 14% (13%) in the breakdown of the Group’s total operating costs. Boliden’s energy policy states that all business units shall implement and maintain energy management systems in accordance with ISO 50001. This also ensures the company’s compliance with the rules and regulations imposed by the Energy Efficiency Directive 202/27/EU. Boliden shall reduce its dependence on fossil fuels by using renewable and/or recycled energy wherever possible.
Boliden’s operations are located in areas where there is no scarcity of water, and no water sources are significantly affected by the water withdrawal by Boliden’s operations. Boliden aims, nonetheless, to reduce both its consumption of freshwater and the discharge of used water, and water is therefore considered a material topic.
Access to large areas of land is essential to the majority of Boliden’s activities, i.e. exploration, mining, and the construction of tailings ponds and dams. Boliden’s land holdings include key habitats, habitat protection areas, nature reserves, and voluntary designated areas for nature conservation. Most of the mines are located in rural areas. The exception is Tara Mines, which is located near the community of Navan in Ireland. The smelters are all located in industrial areas adjacent to a community and close to the coast.
Boliden is working with systematic reviews of its actual energy and CO₂ emission trends, to identify possible improvements and efficiency measures. Boliden’s units continuously evaluate their material topics during their annual environmental aspects reviews in compliance with the requirements of the ISO 14001 standard.
Using the best available technical solutions, using resources efficiently, and replacing fossil fuels with renewable ones will all be important components of Boliden’s efforts to reduce CO₂ emissions. All units are also obliged to work continuously on making improvements to process efficiency.
Boliden’s smelters have all been working, for many years now, to make improvements and reductions in their emissions to air, focusing on metals and sulfur dioxide.
Local action plans are being drawn up both at mines and smelters with the aim of reducing diffuse emissions (dust).
Mines and smelters generate waste consisting of waste rock, tailings sand, slag and sludge. Boliden’s waste is normally handled within the producing unit, but some waste requires specific treatment and is sent to another Boliden unit or external facility.
Environmental compliance is a material topic, because environmental sustainability is a precondition for successful mining and smelting operations. Legal requirements shall always be met.
Environmental criteria are a vital part of Boliden’s Business Partner Code of Conduct, and accordingly also a crucial part of the evaluation of business partners and supplier assessments. Boliden requires all business partners to identify and document their environmental aspects and to be aware of and comply with environmental legislation and common practices. Business partners are expected to strive to minimize their environmental impact.
Grievances about environmental impacts
It is the responsibility of every employee to ensure that operations are conducted properly and in compliance with given instructions. Employees must promptly report any suspected violation relating to accounting, internal controls, and auditing to their immediate superior.
Neighbors and other stakeholders are welcome to contact either the business unit or any of the company functions by a variety of channels, i.e. phone, e-mail, written correspondence.
The subjects of reports received by Boliden included noise, vibrations, dust, and other types of disturbances to the locality. Complaints are handled in accordance with local procedures.