Stewards of the environment
We aim to be stewards of the environment and the natural resources under our responsibility. Our sustainability policy requires that we build from a foundation of regulatory compliance with consistency in standards, practices and procedures worldwide. This means that our mines fully comply with all laws and regulations in the countries in which we operate and follow a strict integrated set of company guidelines with regard to the environment. Our environmental policy, supported by a dedicated organization, focuses on both environmental stewardship and acting on climate change.
Reducing our environmental footprint and enhancing biodiversity
Many of our mines and quarries are located in regions of great natural beauty. Our ultimate goal therefore, is to return the land we disturb to its natural state and to have a zero net impact on biodiversity. Restoring biodiversity is key.
The overburden, or sterile rock, that covers our open-pit mines is removed to designated areas where it is covered with local top soil and revegetated with endemic plant life. To help us, we engage local academics to advise us on cultivation techniques; the choice of species; where and when to plant; how to nurture and so on. This rehabilitation process is ongoing during the working life of a mine, to reduce the visual impact of the mine and ensure that the land can be restored quickly and more cost-effectively when the mine is eventually exhausted and has to be closed.
We have outlined our commitment as a signatory to the act4nature Business Commitments for Biodiversity and have established a scientific partnership with the UMS Patrimoine Naturel (under the supervision of the French National Museum of Natural History, the French Biodiversity Agency and the French National Center for Scientific Research) to advise and support the Group biodiversity program.
Conserving energy and water and reducing emissions
Our energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are relatively small compared to many other mining industries; however, mineral milling can be an energy-greedy business, particularly in today's world where the market push is towards ever-finer grades. Where possible, we use renewable energies such as hydroelectricity, solar panels and wind turbines to cover part of our energy requirements. Water use reduction is a focus at all of our operations. We are also progressively converting our plants from fuel oil to natural gas, which produces less sulfur and lower CO2 emissions. Pit water used to clean equipment is degreased in separation tanks and channeled into sedimentation ponds to remove suspended particles prior to discharge. At our processing plants, water is recycled back into the production circuit wherever possible.
All Imerys operations manage environment-related matters in a manner that is planned, controlled, monitored and recorded in compliance with an internationally acknowledged Environmental Management System (EMS). The majority are compliant with ISO 14001 standards.
Acting on climate change
We are committed to playing our part in reducing the impact of climate change and contributing to the transition to a low carbon or carbon-free economy. Our long-term climate change strategy covers every aspect of our business: organization, equipment, methods, technology, supplies, transportation, and renewable energies.
Imerys has a long-term climate change strategy to support international commitments and targets. As well as reporting our emissions every year through CDP’s disclosure program, we have also committed to the French Business Climate Pledge and will set our targets through the Science Based Targets initiative.
Our energy and environment teams are mapping energy consumption and carbon emissions, and creating action plans to achieve the ambitious targets set, which includes reducing Group CO2 emissions relative to revenue (tCO2/Eur) by 2030 in line with the COP21 2°C trajectory.