Activities such as mining, milling and transportation at our Red Dog Operations, located in the territory of the Iñupiat people of Northwest Alaska, generate dust, which has the potential to affect the environment.
The Iñupiat have long engaged in subsistence hunting, fishing and gathering on their lands. A Subsistence Advisory Committee, made up of residents from the communities of Noatak and Kivalina meets regularly with NANA and Teck representatives to review all subsistence-related issues and to guide subsistence protection activities at the mine and associated facilities, including the management of fugitive dust.
We recognize that dust mitigation is important in order to ensure the Iñupiat people’s way of life is protected and, as such, we take measures to protect air quality through our fugitive dust mitigation program.
Since mine operations commenced in 1989, Red Dog has invested more than $24 million in an aggressive program to reduce fugitive dust emissions through operational and facility improvements and activities including:
- Designing engineering controls to either prevent dust from occurring or to keep it contained
- Installing air quality control devices, such as baghouse dust collectors, in storage and transport buildings to more efficiently remove dust from the air
- Enclosing buildings and conveyors at Red Dog’s port and mine to keep the amount of dust on-site to a minimum
- Applying a mixture of non-toxic calcium chloride and water to the 52-mile road between our mine and the port to control dust generation
- Changing the truck fleet to hard-covered trailers to transport concentrate
As a result of these measures, a risk assessment conducted in 2007 concluded that it is safe to consume subsistence foods in all areas without restrictions. Dust monitoring studies in the two communities closest to the mine⎯Noatak (35 miles away) and Kivalina (50 miles away)⎯also concluded that the level of dust present in the environment does not pose any health concerns to humans. We recognize the need to continually monitor and test water quality, air emissions, fish, local caribou populations, plants and berries, and other potential food sources to ensure that subsistence foods are safe to eat. These assessments and studies were developed and implemented in collaboration with NANA and shared with communities.
We continue to monitor and evaluate our performance and look for opportunities for further improvement. For example, trials for potentially more effective road dust suppression products are planned for 2016 and we continue to invest in dust control products. Protecting air quality through continual reduction of dust is just one of our commitments to the communities near our operations and our employees to safeguard human health and the environment.