At Hecla, responsible mining is about being transparent and open. It’s a commitment both to the safety of our people and to the protection of the environment, as well as to continuous improvement through technological innovation. And it’s made possible thanks to the dedication of our employees – and with the support of our leadership and the communities in which we operate.
Hecla’s values of being responsible, safe, and innovative are an essential part of our social license to operate, and we have steadily expanded our communication activities around our sustainable practices, incorporating input from stakeholders on our Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) efforts.
Hecla focuses on delivering strong financial results that respect communities and the environment while improving accountability. 2020 will be our second year of benchmarking our ESG performance against key metrics of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) metals and mining protocol. This particular protocol focuses on risks and opportunities that are material to mining companies. Although we track these metrics internally on a quarterly basis, we currently update the SASB standards once a year.
The SASB standards combined with our EMS system and site-specific management action plans establish the metrics that will determine the effectiveness of mitigating climate risks.
The United Nations has developed a list of 17 goals that address global challenges we all face. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) are a shared blueprint to a better and more sustainable future for all people and our planet. The SDG’s are an urgent call for action by all countries to achieve these goals by 2030, but governments cannot do it alone. Businesses have an important role to play and Hecla is doing our part to help achieve these goals by being responsible, safe, and innovative.
Specifically, we are working to make an impact on the four SDG’s that align most closely with our business and have prioritized the following areas:
|Goal #4 Quality Education – obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development. Hecla partners with local universities and other groups and provides financial contributions toward important local education programs such as the Pathways program in Alaska.|
|Goal #6 Clean Water & Sanitation – clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. Water management is essential to mining and we work hard to keep the water safe for our neighboring communities and the environment.|
|Goal #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth – sustainable economic growth will require societies to create the conditions that allow people to have quality jobs. Hecla is one of the largest employers in many of the rural communities where we operate. We provide high-paying, good-quality career jobs.|
|Goal #15 Life on Land – sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. We are committed to protecting the land. Our tailings management policies as well as our reclamation efforts all support restoring the lands to their natural state or reducing our environmental impact.|
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 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. Our priority areas are detailed in our 2019 Sustainability Report.
Our ongoing ESG efforts align with our on-the-ground sustainability programs. Below are our 2019 highlights and 2020 focus areas in each ESG category:
Our Environmental Management System (EMS) is a framework that helps us achieve our environmental goals through consistent review, evaluation, and improvement in our environmental performance.
- more than 90 percent of the key EMS elements in place company-wide as confirmed by internal and third-party reviews
- more than doubled the hours of environmental training for site employees (from 2,441 hours in 2018 to 5,382 hours in 2019) and reduced by over 50 percent the number of reportable spills
- accomplished our 2018 goal at our Casa Berardi Mine in Québec of achieving or exceeding a Level A rating for elements of Canada’s TSM program, which includes energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions management, safety and health, indigenous and community relationships, crisis management and communications planning
- the Lucky Friday Mine in Idaho was one of only four businesses to receive the State of Idaho’s Pollution Prevention Award in 2019 for environmental stewardship at the mine
- exceeded our 2019 performance targets for energy consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) at Casa Berardi by installing timers on the underground mine ventilation system which reduced electricity consumption by 23 percent and propane consumption by 7 percent by timing the ventilation needs and heating requirements
- recycled more than 90 percent of the water from the tailings pond at Casa Berardi and 95 percent of the process water at the Lucky Friday
- company-wide, the volume of water recycled increased by 4 percent in 2019 from 1.177 to 1.229 billion gallons of water reused
- twenty-four percent of the total tailings produced company-wide were returned to the mine as backfill rather than stored on the surface
- completed final reclamation at the Troy Mine Tailings Storage Facility in Montana, and more than 200,000 trees and shrubs have been planted
- develop focus areas in each ESG category annually
- advance efforts to meet our three-year freshwater intensity (gallons/ton ore milled) reduction of 5 percent from the 2018 baseline year in 2021
- initiate an aggressive discharge reduction strategic planning effort at Lucky Friday with a goal of reducing site-wide discharges by 35 percent by 2023
- complete water treatment system upgrades at Fire Creek in Nevada in 2020
- for our energy reduction efforts, company-wide, Hecla has established a three-year energy intensity reduction target of 5 percent from the 2018 baseline year in 2021. Because our energy intensity increased in 2019 due to the addition of our Nevada operations and on-site generated power at some of our mines, we are developing plans to further focus on energy reduction opportunities.
- achieve Level A under Canada’s TSM program for tailings management and biodiversity conservation management at the Casa Berardi Mine in Québec
- complete additional training on EMS elements and implementation, and third-party review of EMS implementation progress
Our greatest resource is our people; their health and safety is our highest priority. Each operation has its own unique safety challenges and solutions, but we all have the same goal: to bring every employee and contractor home safe – every shift, every day.
- in January 2020, the strike at the Lucky Friday Mine in Idaho ended, and the employees returned to a mine with a stellar safety record
- the Lucky Friday was recognized for earning the 2018 Sentinels of Safety Award, the industry’s most prestigious safety award, from the National Mining Association (NMA). The award is presented annually to mines with the best safety records and those that have worked the most employee hours without experiencing a lost-time injury.
- reduced our 2019 company-wide All Injury Frequency Rate (AIFR) by 20 percent to 1.61 – the lowest level in the company’s history and 33 percent below the national average
- our safety and behavior focus have reduced the AIFR by 70 percent over the past 6 years
- our employees worked more than 5.7 million man-hours and received more than 59,000 hours of health and safety training
- conducted over 14,000 safety observations and employee interactions (up from more than 8,600 in 2018) and corrected in advance of a possible incident over 7,000 site conditions
- the Lucky Friday Mine Rescue Team earned first place in the 2019 Central Mine Rescue Competition with the Greens Creek Mine Rescue Team taking second place
- implement plans at each site to manage the COVID-19 pandemic to protect worker health with minimal disruption to operations
- update our company-wide fatigue management program
- achieve a further 5 percent AIFR reduction from 2019 performance
- create greater gender diversity in 2020 and beyond
- complete discrimination training program for managers and supervisors
- improve opportunities for female employees in operations, engineering, and geology
Hecla and our employees strengthen our communities and our company by partnering and contributing in meaningful ways to the economic and social well-being of our host communities.
- hired two graduates from the Pathways to Mining Careers program to work at the Greens Creek Mine in Alaska. Since 2011, Hecla has donated more than $1 million toward supporting sustainable career development programs for the UAS Mine Training Center and the Pathways program.
- hired twelve graduates of the 20th cohort from the Mineral Extraction program at the James Bay Vocational Training Center at the Casa Berardi Mine in Québec
- contributed nearly $6 million over the past ten years to education, youth activities, community programs, and health services, $3.4 million of which was donated by the Hecla Charitable Foundation
- refresh our community advisory committees in each of our locations in light of conditions post COVID-19 to further understand how our mines can be integral partners
- work with North Idaho College’s Career Training Center to finalize a training curriculum that can be offered to our employees
- continue with our Pathway program in Alaska that introduces young people to careers in mining
- Hecla Québec will continue to partner with the University of Québec in Abitibi-Témiscamingue on the Hecla-Québec Global Development Fund (UQAT Foundation) which focuses on development of university teaching and research and supporting students in their academic journey. Since 2009, more than $1.7 million has been donated to the UQAT Foundation.
- restart the biomass heating project that heats downcast air into the Casa Berardi Mine. The project consists of replacing part of the propane energy source with forest biomass. Operation of the system would be carried out in collaboration with the local community and First Nations.
We seek not only to pursue, but also to deliver the highest standard of ethics and integrity in every aspect of our business – in order to be a positive influence wherever we operate.
- enhanced disclosure on our pay-for-pay performance
- updated and strengthened 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 of Directors and Committee oversight
- reached out to 50 of our top shareholders to help us understand expectations of performance, maintain transparency, and share corporate governance and compensation policies
- add a new director and identify two potential directors with one or more being a woman
- continue to update and strengthen our ESG reporting metrics
Hecla is often among the largest private-sector employers in the communities in which we operate, and we hire locally as much as possible.
Hecla has invested in innovative technology to help protect our people and reduce our environmental impact.
Hecla uses renewable energy sources whenever possible to further reduce our environmental impact.
Hecla produces one-third of all the silver in the United States. While 88 percent of our production comes from the U.S. and Canada, all of our mine sites are located in stable regions.
Hecla’s recent “SAFETY: Take It Home” campaign contest was shared by both the National Mining Association (NMA) and CORESafety.
Responsible management of mining waste, or tailings, is a critical part of our daily operations and our long-term responsibility to our communities.
Hecla is often among the largest private-sector employers in the rural areas where our mines are located.
Hecla’s innovation solutions range from simple to complex, and we optimize each site based on its customized operational priorities.
Hecla Mining Company is a precious metals company. The metals and minerals we mine at our operations are at the very front of the nation’s supply chain and are essential to many industries, including health care.
Investing in education has been a long-held priority for Hecla, and we have developed customized programs such as the Pathways to Mining Careers program in Alaska that support the educational needs of our communities and our workforce.
Hecla’s goal is to bring every worker and every contractor home safe, every shift, every day.
Hecla released its 2019 Sustainability Report which outlines our ongoing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) efforts with our on-the-ground sustainability programs.
Hecla’s Corporate Director of Safety and Health, Michael Wegleitner, brings the safety message home and to nearby schools.
When Cindy Moore, a chief engineer at Hecla, was diagnosed with ALS in 2010, she immediately began fundraising for the ALS Association’s Evergreen Chapter and became a tireless advocate against this terrible disease.
Hecla geologist Jonathan Moore was working in his yard with his two young children. He regularly demonstrates to them how Hecla teaches him to stay safe.
Our mines are located in some of the world’s most unique habitats, and we strive to be attentive neighbors that ensure wildlife is safe and protected for the present and future.
Companywide, Hecla employs close to 1,700 people with a total direct compensation of more than $50.9 million per year. In addition, more than one indirect job is created by each direct Hecla job.
Hecla employees are leaders and volunteers in their communities. They serve on school boards, coach sports teams, raise money for charity and promote mining education initiatives.
Our Lucky Friday Mine was named a “Pollution Prevention Champion” by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) for its environmental stewardship practices.
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills are critical for advancing the mining industry and building the workforce of tomorrow.
Our Lucky Friday Mine was recently named a 2018 Sentinels of Safety award winner by the National Mining Association (NMA) for its stellar safety record.