The winner of this year’s Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s Environmental and Social Responsibility Award looks to the next generation in its work as well as its name.
NexGen Energy Ltd. is receiving the 2019 award as a recognition of its leadership and accomplishment in its development of the Arrow uranium deposit in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. NexGen’s Arrow uranium deposit is expected to have a mine life of at least nine years when production begins in 2023. PDAC’s award also recognizes efforts to establish and maintain good relations with local communities during exploration or mine operations.
“The NexGen team’s culture of creating positive impacts for all reflects our core objective which extends beyond bringing a mine into production, says Leigh Curyer, chief executive officer of the Vancouver- and Saskatoon-based company, incorporated in 2011.
The PDAC award recognizes the environmental work that NexGen has undertaken to overhaul dated mining practices and bring in new technology to minimize its footprint. For example, it has been performing directional drilling that tests several targets from a single location, reducing the amount of land that would be disturbed by conventional drilling.
“At each drill site, centrifuges separate return water from mineralized cuttings to prevent contamination. Meanwhile, extensive studies are characterizing the existing environment to inform future planning, disturbed areas are being re-vegetated, and plans are under way to install a solar energy pilot project and construct energy-efficient buildings,” the company says.
In terms of social responsibility, NexGen has committed to several initiatives designed not only to boost economic development but also to benefit community health and well-being through sports and recreation.
The company is focusing on job opportunities for La Loche, Sask., and surrounding communities, increasing the number of services and supplies being locally sourced. NexGen has also entered an alliance with the Breakfast Club of Canada, helping to provide healthy breakfasts to more than 1,100 students in three schools nearby.
Through NexGen’s summer internship program, high school and other postsecondary students have the opportunity to explore career options and qualify for bursaries to fund further and higher education. Some 30 students have already completed internships since 2016.
Even the dogs are looked after: NexGen hosts a fostering program at its camp that gives homeless dogs a safe place to stay while they await adoption – some of which are adopted by their staff.