Thunder Bay – Business – There was a lot of hope that 2021 would be a different, more “normal” year than 2020. While we face ending this calendar year with an uptick in COVID-19 cases as well as the emergence of a new variant of concern, we remain optimistic and vigilant at Impala Canada and our Lac des Iles (LDI) Mine. Early on in the pandemic, we recognized the importance of being a leader in the area of preventative health and vaccination to best protect the health of our team members, their families across the country and the Thunder Bay region, and on November 2nd, 2021, we celebrated 100% of our employees, contractors and visitors achieving full vaccination against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, our role in palladium production in North America continues to be essential in maintaining global supply chains, getting a metal to market that is critical to reducing environmental harm, and offering a stable and vibrant livelihood to our workforce. Our successful mining operation also allows us to give back and alleviate some of the burdens people are facing in our community, while unlocking further opportunity for our region. So over the course of 2021 we did just that – we committed more than $1,000,000 and donated more than $300,000 to outstanding organizations locally and nationally in support of economic growth, community development and positive social impact.
Recognizing the Resilience of our Workforce
None of this could be possible without our 800-person strong workforce who live our company values each and every day: Respect, Care and Deliver.
“The performance of our team over the last 12 months has given me every confidence in our ability to weather storms, rise to the occasion, and remain competitive as one of Canada’s largest, lowest cost and safest underground mines,” said Tim Hill, CEO of Impala Canada. “The partnership between Impala Canada and the Thunder Bay Community is strong and I know that together, we will continue to grow stronger.”
In recognition of our workforce’s dedication and performance, in 2021 we introduced a $10,000 employee retention bonus and an enhanced employee referral bonus. Determined to be an employer of choice and industry leader in attracting and retaining the best workforce, we also announced a significant compensation increase across all unionized and staff salaries for 2022.
Shoring up the Community
The impacts of COVID-19 both highlighted systemic inequities, like food insecurity, and exacerbated them where they exist. In April of 2021, we led an effort to bring together mining companies in Northwestern Ontario to contribute $80,000 to Roots to Harvest, a Thunder Bay-based organization using food to build belonging and tackle systemic issues, like poverty, in the region.
Then in November, after being inspired by the good work of this organization, we committed another $375,000 to Roots to Harvest, representing our biggest social investment to date, and Roots to Harvest’s largest corporate donation ever. This contribution will allow Roots to Harvest to open a new dining room, develop and implement monthly Traditional Food Meals for Elders and Seniors in Northwestern Ontario and build five food projects that build capacity and deepen connections to community and Indigenous traditions.
The workforce at Impala Canada shares this desire to improve the quality of life for those living in the Thunder Bay region. While the team may come from across the region, province and Canada, when at LDI, Thunder Bay is their home, and they are always ready to support the community.
This year, our LDI holiday auction was supported generously by our employees, contractors and suppliers to raise more than $24,000 to support local family-oriented charities like Children’s Aid, Faye Paterson House, Our Kids Count, the Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and the St. Joe’s Secret Santa Program.
Many employees also participated in our 12 Days of Giving program that saw 12 charities nominated by employees receive $100 donations from our company. And most recently, we were excited to once again join the entire Thunder Bay community to support the 36 Hours of Cheer in support of the Christmas Cheer Fund. As the leading corporate sponsor, we contributed $30,000 to the more than $240,000 total raised.
Positioning Thunder Bay region for long-term growth
Ensuring the long-term potential of the mining industry in Northwestern Ontario allows us to plan for a bright future as an employer, investor, and active member of the community.
In February 2021, we committed a $375,000 investment to help establish the Industrial Research Chair in Geology at Lakehead University, together with the Ontario Government’s Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and other industry representatives. Our LDI Mine and regional exploration projects are becoming a home-away-from-home to faculty, graduates and undergraduates in their quest to better understand the geology of Northwestern Ontario and identify more opportunities like LDI – a system of deposits that became a mine that continues to operate after 28 years.
“Exploration is the lifeline of the mining industry, and finding new, economically viable mineral deposits opens the door to generations of jobs, investment and community development opportunities,” added Tim Hill, CEO, Impala Canada.
Supporting the pipeline of talent to the industry is also imperative to a sustainable future, as is working to ensure all communities have equal access to participate. Through a $150,000 commitment to Indspire, we developed a total of 30 bursaries for post-secondary Indigenous youth – half will be dedicated to youth from one of the five local Indigenous communities we have active partnerships with, and the other half will go to Indigenous students from anywhere in Canada studying a trades education at Confederation College.
As we continue to responsibly mine palladium at LDI and be a major employer in the region, our unwavering commitment is this: to care for one another, to respect the culture and diversity around us and to deliver meaningful support to our community.