Swallows are thriving once again in the Malartic region of Quebec, thanks to the Environment team at Canadian Malartic Mine (CMM), and in recognition of their leadership in protecting and conserving biodiversity the team was recently declared the latest winner of Agnico Eagle's Michel Létourneau Award.
The award was presented to the CMM Environment team during a virtual ceremony held on July 30th to honour employee 'good moves' in health, safety, environment, community and business performance throughout 2019-2020. The award was presented by Sean Boyd, Vice-Chair & CEO, Patrice Gilbert, Vice-President Health, Safety, Social & Public Affairs, and the award's namesake, our former colleague, now retired, Michel Létourneau.
The Environment team first noticed two swallows flying overhead during a field inspection of CMM's borrow pit in August of 2019. Stéphanie Lafrenière, Sustainable Development Coordinator and a trained biologist, and François Bergeron, Site Reclamation Technician, tracked the birds and discovered approximately 125 nesting burrows along the face of the pit.
Understanding the swallows' importance to a biodiverse ecosystem, they consulted with their colleague François Dubois, Senior Buyer and amateur ornithologist. François confirmed the birds were bank swallows - a species that is classified as threatened in Canada due to their dramatic population decline of 98% over the last 40 years.
Since extracting was set to resume soon in the borrow pit, Stéphanie contacted Éric Bouchard, CMM's Tailings Facility Assistant-Superintendent, to develop a plan to minimize disturbance to the swallows. A decision was quickly made to open up another face in the pit and leave the swallows undisturbed in their existing location. Everyone agreed that once the swallows had migrated south for the winter, the face with the nests could then be exploited and later reshaped so the bank swallows could nest there the following year.
According to Stéphanie, the swallows have returned to Malartic in strong numbers. During a field inspection in May 2020, there were too many swallows flying overhead for the team to get an accurate count, although they were able to identify over 215 nesting burrows along the pit face.
'The successful return of the swallows to their nesting site is a perfect example of great teamwork,' said Stéphanie. 'Having such an engaged, passionate and committed team makes it far easier to implement potentially challenging measures that could disrupt normal operations.'
'Our work carries a strong conservation message and I think it will encourage similar initiatives by raising everyone's awareness about the significance of any action, however small, to conserving biodiversity.'
Patrice Gilbert commented, 'We chose this CMM initiative because it advances so many of our biodiversity management and conservation objectives - in particular, our goal to protect and restore ecosystems by ensuring that biodiversity is taken into account during our project planning and operations.'
Sean Boyd added, 'By protecting and supporting threatened species like the bank swallows - now and in the future - we are determined to make mining work for all stakeholders. Congratulations to the Environment team and everyone at CMM for your culture of caring and for your outstanding conservation efforts.'
CONSERVATION MEASURES HELP SWALLOWS TAKE FLIGHT: Bank swallows are small songbirds found across North America. Often nesting in burrows in the vertical faces of sand and gravel pits, they are part of a biodiverse ecosystem, helping to keep the insect population in check. The birds migrate south for the winter, primarily to South America.
Bank swallows are classified as a threatened species in Canada, suffering a dramatic population decline of 98% over the last 40 years. Their decline is due to various threats facing the species, including loss of breeding and feeding habitat and destruction of nests caused by aggregate excavation. CMM's conservation measures are helping to reduce the impact of those threats by conserving the pit faces with nests and rebuilding them once they've been mined; and, by halting all excavation activity on any faces inhabited by swallows and only resuming operations once they have left, at the end of the nesting period. These conservation measures will continue to encourage the bank swallows to return to the CMM site each year.
Agnico-Eagle Mines Limited published this content on 20 August 2020 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 20 August 2020 13:58:07 UTC