Since 1891, Hecla Mining Company has distinguished itself as a respected precious metals producer. Our code of conduct demonstrates our commitment and standards of ethics and integrity in every aspect of our business.
Hecla operates in the lowest risk-rated jurisdictions with the most robust regulatory frameworks for environmental compliance, health and safety protections, community engagement, and corporate governance. For example, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, and Quebec were named by the Fraser Institute as being among the top 10 jurisdictions in the Investment Attractiveness Index in the world.
88% of company production comes from Canada and the United States which are rated #11 and #25 respectively in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.
Hecla Québec, as a member of the Mining Association of Canada and Québec Mining Association, is complying with the required Toward Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative which is recognized as one of the best in class mining management systems.
As Hecla is a publicly traded company, our CEO and senior officers are held to an especially high set of ethical standards as described in our Code of Ethics.
Hecla’s Code of Conduct demonstrates our commitment to seeking and delivering best practices in ethics and integrity in every aspect of our business. Our directors and employees are required to abide by our Code of Conduct to promote the conduct of our business in a consistently legal and ethical manner. We expect our leaders to set the example by being a role model in every respect, and all those with supervisory responsibility to exercise that responsibility in a manner that is caring, receptive, considerate, and respectful.
The Governance Committee has adopted procedures to receive, retain, and react to complaints received regarding possible violations of the Code of Conduct, and to allow for the confidential and anonymous submission by employees of concerns regarding possible violations. Our employees may submit any concerns regarding apparent violations of the Code of Conduct to their supervisor, our General Counsel, the Chair of the Governance Committee, or through an anonymous telephone hotline.
The Board of Directors, directly and through the Governance Committee, seeks to maintain corporate governance practices that are aligned with our strategic, financial and operational goals. We do this by conducting processes at least annually to evaluate, optimize, and update governance guidelines, including a director resignation policy and majority voting for director elections. Our Corporate Governance Guidelines also provide shareholders with the best-practice principles of our corporate governance program and board framework. Board committees have written charters that clearly establish their respective roles and responsibilities and are composed exclusively of independent directors. The Governance Committee oversees and conducts an annual performance evaluation of our board.
One of the keys to Hecla’s long-term success has been our ability to identify and manage the activities and issues that maintain or enhance the ability of our company to create value over the long term. To accomplish this, our Board of Directors actively oversees and monitors the most significant issues that could impact Hecla’s operations, and ensures that necessary steps are taken to foster a culture of risk-adjusted decision making.
We have in place robust, integrated risk management practices that address climate, human capital, and enterprise risks at appropriate intervals. Our risk management practices have evolved and expanded over the decades to reflect shifting business, regulatory, and political climates. Accordingly, our increased reporting of ESG efforts is a reflection of the need to quantify and express many of these same practices that we have implemented for years.
The Health, Safety, Environmental and Technical Committee (HSET) of the Board of Directors is tasked with overseeing ESG risks and strategic plans and progress to ensure the sustainability of our operations and social license. The committee regularly reviews, monitors and reports to the Board on actions and initiatives undertaken by the company to prevent, mitigate and manage risks related to health, safety, environmental and sustainability matters which may have the potential to adversely impact Hecla’s operations, activities, plans, strategies or reputation, and prevent loss or injury to the company’s employees, assets, and operations from malicious acts, natural disasters or other crisis situations. The HSET Committee meets quarterly with the management team.
At the executive level, the Vice President of External Affairs reports directly to the CEO and is responsible for implementing the company’s sustainability program, specifically on the environmental and social aspects of ESG while the board focuses on governance aspects. Every member of the senior management team is expected to contribute to our ESG efforts.
At the local level, the company has risk assessment and mitigation measures in place at each operation, and the Vice President – General Managers are responsible for ensuring continuous improvement towards sustainability goals. In addition, each site has a tailings, waste and water working group that considers, among other aspects, climate changes that could affect site operations and design of key mine facility infrastructure (e.g. tailings systems, waste rock management and water management and treatment). These working groups, which include participation by our Chief Operating Officer, report to the General Managers at each site and meet formally at least twice a year.
The primary responsibility of the Compensation Committee, which consists entirely of independent members of the Board of Directors, is to oversee executive compensation decisions. The pay-for-performance philosophy of Hecla’s executive compensation program plays a significant role in its ability to produce strong operating, exploration, strategic, and financial results. Review our proxy statement to learn more.
Government policy is one of the most powerful external forces affecting us today. New laws and changes to existing laws can fundamentally impact the Company’s operations and the markets where it does business – and in turn, our bottom line, thereby affecting us and our employees, retirees, communities and shareholders. It is important for government leaders to understand the impact of such actions. Because the impact of government policy is so critical to our survival and success, we participate in the political process and advocate in a responsible and constructive manner on issues that advance the Company’s goals and protect shareholder value.
Our government affairs representatives meet with lawmakers and government officials on issues that directly impact our Company and we are members of trade associations that advocate on behalf of the natural resources industry. We are committed to the highest standard of ethical conduct in our involvement in policymaking and the political process. All dealings with government officials, including lobbying, political contributions to candidates, and meeting with government agencies are done in accordance with all applicable national, state and local laws and regulations in each country in which the Company conducts business. Additional policies related to our dealings with government officials is included in our Code of Conduct and is reported annually to the Board of Directors.
We maintain the Hecla Mining Company Political Action Committee (“Hecla PAC”), which is a forum for our employees and directors to voluntarily contribute to a fund that supports the election of candidates to Congress that support a regulatory and legislative environment constructive to the operation and development of our mines. The Hecla PAC is organized under the provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and the amendments of 1974, 1976, 1979. The Hecla PAC is managed by a Chairman who is appointed annually by Hecla’s President. The Chairman appoints a Vice Chairman, a Secretary and a Treasurer. The Chairman also appoints members to the Contribution Committee. Decisions about contributions to specific federal candidates are made by members of the Hecla PAC. We also file all required Hecla PAC contribution reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). In 2020, the Hecla PAC contributed $62,000 to state and federal candidates.
Hecla is actively engaged with state and federal trade associations via membership and leadership roles. Our President and CEO, Phillips S. Baker, Jr., is currently chairman of the National Mining Association’s Board of Directors, and Hecla has representatives on governing committees of the Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Mining Association of Canada and Québec Mining Associations.
Common stockholders are allowed to vote on important issues, and we actively seek their feedback. In addition, during 2019, Hecla reached out to 50 of our top shareholders to help us understand expectations of performance, maintain transparency and share corporate governance and compensation policies. Some tangible examples of the results of our 2019 shareholder outreach activities include:
- enhanced disclosure on our pay-for-performance
- continued to update and strengthen our ESG reporting and metrics on our website and in other publicly available materials, and enhanced disclosure on our ESG efforts
- included more disclosure on enterprise risk management for Board and Committee oversight
Other corporate governance topics discussed in our shareholder outreach program included board diversity and refreshment. In response, we added two new directors in 2016, and one new director in 2017, thereby reducing the average tenure of the Board. We also have several directors who are within one to two years of retirement age and will not be standing for reelection at the end of their respective terms, thus allowing us to refresh the Board further within the next few years.
Hecla supports fundamental human rights and responsible workplace practices across the company and in all jurisdictions in which we conduct our business. We conduct business in jurisdictions where human rights laws are respected and promoted and we are committed to respecting and observing all human rights and strive to conduct our business in a manner consistent with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Our operations are based in North America and our jurisdictions have been rated by the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for low corruption and highly rated by the Fraser Institute’s annual survey of mineral and mining companies for following the most stringent regulatory frameworks for transparency, compliance with stringent environmental and safety laws, involve high levels of community engagement, and adhere to human rights’ protections. Our support of human rights includes providing assurance that our operations will not support, benefit from or contribute to unlawful armed conflict, human rights abuses, or breaches of international humanitarian law. Our commitment to fair, ethical, and responsible business practices as we engage with our employees, vendors and communities around our operations is embodied in our Code of Conduct. We regularly engage with our stakeholders, including our local communities, indigenous peoples, and government agencies to identify, understand and address potential impacts of our operations on human rights. More information on our Human Rights Statement.
At Hecla, our Integrated Corporate Responsibility Policy begins with the belief that a safe mine is a productive mine – and that we will strive to guard the safety and health of both our employees and our communities. Second, we will be responsible environmental stewards who strive to minimize the effects of exploration, development, and operations – and then reclaim our projects to productive post-mining land uses. Third, we believe that by becoming responsive to community needs, we’re able to build trust and relationships that foster our social license to operate. This encompasses taking a mutually beneficial approach to issues affecting the communities where we operate, treating others with respect, and engaging in open and honest communication. Each of these aspects is considered key to our core business strategy and continued profitability and will therefore be fully integrated into our business planning.
In the 2020 Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, and Quebec were named among the top 10 jurisdictions in the Investment Attractiveness Index in the world.
The Audit Committee assists the Board of Directors in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities – the integrity of the financial statements, the independent auditor’s qualifications and independence, the performance of the internal audit function, compliance with legal and regulatory requirements (including disclosure controls and procedures), and the effectiveness of the internal controls over financial reporting.
We have a Whistleblower Policy adopted by our Audit Committee that encourages our employees to report to appropriate Company representatives, without fear of retaliation, certain accounting information relating to possible fraud. Our employees may submit any concerns regarding financial statement disclosures, accounting, internal accounting controls or auditing matters to the Audit Committee, our General Counsel, or through an anonymous telephone hotline or website. The goal of this policy is to discourage illegal activity and business conduct that damages Hecla’s reputation, business interests, and our relationship with shareholders.