Wealth Minerals is dedicated to being a responsible corporate citizen, building out a world class company at the forefront of new energy technologies. As we strive to supply the world with lithium for the ongoing energy revolution, we are also committed to implementing best practices on all levels of our operations, from first rate exploration, mine engineering and eventual mine operation, to work place safety and a quality work place environment. We will work tirelessly to manage the impact of our operations, and to ensure that our host communities and Chile gain long-term sustainable benefits from our activities.
MINING RESPONSIBLY, OUR MISSION
Wealth Minerals understands that the company cannot succeed if all stakeholders do not succeed as well. Management strives to act as a responsible corporate citizen by building projects together with the communities near our operations, and to protect nature, as some of our projects are situated in truly spectacular environments. We are committed to using the best available techniques and technologies to develop our assets. We aim to achieve benefits for all parties involved and to contribute to the sustainability and improved livelihoods for the communities in which we operate. Mining responsibly defines who we are as a company and, at the end of the day, is plain good business sense.
CONTRIBUTING TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Our long-term vision is to become a pre-eminent player in the Global lithium industry, and a leading company in Chile. To achieve this, we strive to conduct ourselves in accordance with the highest ethical standards. We know that success depends on our ability to earn our social license to operate through the management of sustainability risks and challenges. We place a priority on developing long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with host governments and communities, while working to minimize and mitigate the social and environmental impacts of our activities. There is no question that the success of our business is tied to the success and stability of our host communities and to our reputation as a responsible partner in resource development.
WORKING WITH INDIGENOUS AND FIRST NATIONS
In 2016 Wealth Minerals acquired an option for the Jessie Creek copper project in southcentral British Columbia. Wealth Minerals worked with Dr. Paul Mitchell-Banks, Principal of Central Coast Consulting Ltd. who served as the General Manager for a First Nations Joint Venture that worked with Wealth Minerals on exploring the property (see: http://centralcoastconsulting.org/).
The experience working with Wealth Minerals was very positive. Paul was a member of the Integrated Social Responsibility Committee of the Association of Mining and Exploration of BC (AMEBC) and summarized the experience in an overview below as a reference for future use.
Mining Exploration and First Nations
In 2016, Wealth Minerals applied for a permit to conduct drilling in the Nicola Valley area, and initially faced some challenges in getting any response from First Nations in the area. When Esh-kn-am Cultural Resource Management Services (ECRMS) representing three First Nations communities was contacted, we initiated a dialogue with Wealth Minerals. We discussed what was proposed, what could be expected, and if the resource proved promising, what was the potential mine design going to look like (underground or open pit, etc.)
A number of factors led to the project eventually receiving support, they included:
- Induced Polarization work had to involve First Nations Field staff supporting the work
- Every effort was made to reduce any environmental effects of laying out IP lines
- 24 hour Environmental Monitoring by First Nations Field Staff during the drilling
- Sump pump pit was lined
- Drilling technology was cutting edge, minimizing cuttings and all cuttings were bagged and were to be buried in an acceptable location
- There would be ongoing discussions of progress, lessons learnt, etc.
ECRMS discussed the proposed exploration with leadership and a decision was made to support the Notice of Work and the exploration initiative on the condition that there was significant First Nations involvement.
This is what we did together:
- A First Nations crew conducted a Preliminary Field Reconnaissance (PFR) of the proposed drilling area and pads. A report was drafted and reviewed by a professional archaeologist, and a request was made for one pad to be moved approximately 50 metres due to some cultural concerns – Wealth Minerals agreed to move that pad
- ECRMS had extensive discussions with Wealth Minerals and government agencies about the project and how best to conduct it. These discussions were all respectful, professional and focused on if the work was going to be conducted, how it had to be conducted.
- These constructive discussions and how the PFR report was addressed led to support for the exploration work being conducted.
- In December 2016, an Induced Polarization (IP) survey was started by Scott Geophysics, finishing in January 2017; a total of 24.2 line kilometres were completed
- All work was conducted with First Nations field staff involved
- Efforts were made to avoid any Culturally Modified Trees (CMTs) and to minimize any trees being cut down
- Safety was a stated major focus, and there were no incidents, despite the weather involving heavy snow and cold temperatures
- A diamond drill programme with Hendex Exploration Services Ltd. began in early January 2017 and was completed in two pushes, separated by a month-long break due to spring thaw conditions. A total of 18 holes were drilled, totaling 4478.9 metres, from 17 pads
- First Nations field staff provided 24 hour Environmental Monitoring
- First Nations field staff were provided drill site orientation by the drilling contractor
- Cooperation was excellent between the parties
- First Nations staff found a very small hydraulic leak from one of the machines and were very impressed with how seriously the contractor took that minor leak and the efforts to immediately clean up the small amount of oil that escaped and was contained in the snow
- Challenges with road access occurred due to a rain event and a washout of the access road, and Wealth Minerals and ECRMS worked closely together to find a viable alternative access route
Why was this important?
- A solid understanding of what was proposed and potential implications of the exploration effort was reached by both parties
- There was demonstrated respect and consideration for the operations occurring within the Traditional Territory of the potentially affected First Nations
- Having First Nations community members involved not only created employment opportunities, but also assisted in keeping communities informed as their members were involved in the project
- There was no opportunity for false information or rumours to develop about the project, especially given the excellent performance of the contractors and the field crew
- Both parties saw this as a relationship and trust building exercise, which could have contributed to a more informed starting point if the exploration had proved out a promising resource and further development and a possible Environmental Assessment were to follow
Wealth Minerals and their exploration team were excellent to deal with. As a First Nations organization, we greatly appreciated the payment of invoices under a week, sometimes within a day or two. Wealth Minerals later confirmed that they considered ECRMS support critical for the successful carrying out of the project and would welcome an opportunity to work with us again.