Our Sustainability Path

Chapter 2.2

Our Sustainability Path

    Syncrude’s sustainability path reflects our commitment to responsible development of the oil sands resource. We are guided by our corporate Vision & Values, here, which speak to our expectations for all employees on how we operate and how we take a principled and ethical approach toward achieving our goals:

    Securing Canada’s Energy Future with:

    • The vision to lead
    • The knowledge to succeed
    • The commitment to do better and
    • The heart to win the race

    We will do this by:

    • Encouraging learning and innovation in everything we do
    • Pushing the limits of what technology can accomplish and
    • Working together to make Syncrude the best place to work

    In this way we will be:

    • Safe, reliable, responsible and profitable and
    • All of our stakeholders will want to invest in our future

    Sustainability strategy and performance are incorporated into our annual business plans through ongoing analysis of stakeholder interests and business consequences. Our relationships with stakeholders, communities of interest and each other provide opportunities for greater recognition and understanding of issues or concerns, societal trends and our own track record. This input is gathered through various mechanisms, including day-to-day interaction, a community advisory panel and an in-depth material risk analysis.

    Assessing Our Material Sustainability Risks

    Syncrude Material Risk Matrix

    The safety and health of our workers and neighbouring communities remains a top business and operational priority

    We work with an external consultant to identify and assess our material risks. This includes interviews with Syncrude management, a review of peer reports and industry initiatives, traditional and social media scans, web-based research on stakeholder positions related to each issue, and previous community advisory panel comments (see below). Results form the basis of a materiality risk matrix which is then stewarded through the Syncrude Board of Directors Safety, Health, Environment and Corporate Sustainability Committee. It enables us to identify trends, ensure proper business focus and evaluate performance.

    The high priority issues are: Land and Biodiversity, Tailings Management, Water, Aboriginal Relations, and Regulatory and Government Relations.

    High priority risks are inclined to reflect environmental issues. Although analysis determined that safety and health was a medium risk, this is reflective of public, stakeholder and management views that we are effectively managing this risk in a sustainability context and have the appropriate systems in place to continually improve our performance. The safety and health of our workers and neighbouring communities remains a top business and operational priority, and our progress is comprehensively analyzed in the Sustainability Management Systems and Safety and Health chapters of this report.

    Community Advisory Panel

    Community advisory panels are convened to seek input on Syncrude’s performance and sustainability reporting. Our first panel in 2011 brought together 10 members with diverse local, provincial and national perspectives to assess our sustainability report. A second panel convened in 2013 with 10 locally-focused stakeholders, and was facilitated by an external consultant. The objective was to share information about Syncrude, our approaches and priorities related to sustainability management, and to provide feedback on our sustainability reporting. It provided an opportunity to engage in a dialogue about the issues we are managing, perspectives of local stakeholders on these issues, their views of our performance, and our material risk assessment results. Another panel is planned for 2016.

    Panel members in 2013 included:

    • Courtenay Badran,
      President, Student Association of Keyano College (SAKC)
    • Stan Boutin,
      Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta
    • Tyrone Brass,
      First Vice President, Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA)
    • Harry Cheecham,
      Land Use Manager, Fort McMurray #468 First Industry Relations Corporation
    • Allison Cranston,
      Geotechnical Engineer, Syncrude
    • Ann Dort-MacLean,
      President, Fort McMurray Environmental Association
    • Michael Evans,
      Executive Director, Government Relations, Municipality of Wood Buffalo
    • Monica Mankowski,
      Deputy Superintendent, Fort McMurray Catholic School Board
    • Diane Shannon,
      Executive Director, Fort McMurray United Way
    • Rob Welte,
      Heavy Equipment Technician, Syncrude

    The panel meeting also included Syncrude executive and senior management representation.

    Prior to meeting in-person, Panel members participated in a short telephone interview with our consultant to discuss key concerns or interests and provide input related to our sustainability performance, communications and disclosure. Each participant received an honourarium, which he or she could decline or donate to a registered charity. Syncrude paid for all meeting-related expenses.

    Community Advisory Panel Feedback

    The following list summarizes the priorities that the local Panel members raised regarding sustainability performance, communications and disclosure. We have addressed these priorities throughout this report. As well, many of these are consistent with our medium and high risks, and are being stewarded through our Board of Directors Safety, Health Environment and Corporate Sustainability Committee. Feedback from the community advisory panel is also incorporated into our risk re-assessment process.

    • Local sustainability performance priorities:
      • Community sustainability
      • Tailings
      • Water
      • Closure/reclamation
      • Aboriginal relations
    • Diversify use of sustainability communication mechanisms to make information more accessible
    • Be clear on our plan and approach by establishing and sharing goals and targets and demonstrate progress against these
    • Balance disclosure of both positive and negative performance
    • Support efforts to improve municipal/regional socio-economic/quality of life/impact indicators
    • Support/align Syncrude sustainability efforts with emerging municipal strategic objectives
    • Seek out and engage in collaborative approaches with peer companies and/or government and community organizations to address sustainability challenges

    Corporate Performance Overview

    At Syncrude, we are committed to conducting our business in a reliable manner that protects the safety of people on our site, the environment, and the surrounding communities. Our Material Risk Analysis forms the basis of our management direction and the information provided in this sustainability report. High priority performance goals, results and ongoing actions are reviewed in the table below. Greater detail, as well as progress on medium and low priority risks, is provided throughout the report in relevant chapters.

    Land and Biodiversity
    Material Issue

    Meet evolving expectations, standards and regulations to protect against biodiversity loss and cumulative effects; and reclaim land successfully

    2014 Goals
    • Reclaim 62 hectares of former mining land
    • Continue monitoring of fen research project
    • Ensure integrity and effectiveness of waterfowl deterrent system
    2014 Results
    • 81 hectares reclaimed
    • Fen project recognized with Mining Association of Canada’s first Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) Environmental Excellence Award
    • 128 avian mortalities related to oiling
    Ongoing Actions
    • Reclaim 75 hectares in 2015
    • Assess exposure to potential federal Species at Risk regulatory changes
    • Continue to monitor species adjacent to operations and on reclaimed land
    Material Issue

    Ability to remediate tailings and address stakeholder concerns regarding long-term liabilities

    2014 Goals
    • 34.6% fines capture at Mildred Lake
    • 50% fines capture at Aurora North
    • Continue research and development of tailings reduction technologies
    2014 Results
    • 47.8% fines capture at Mildred Lake exceeding target
    • 25% fines capture at Aurora North
    • Construction neared completion of $1.9 billion Tailings Centrifuge Plant
    Ongoing Actions
    • Achieve 50% fines capture at Mildred Lake and Aurora North sites in 2015
    • Manage volumes of fluid fine tailings (FFT) by using new technologies, including start-up of centrifuge plant in 2015
    • Continue research of additional remediation technologies, including accelerated dewatering
    • Achieve reliable operation of Aurora North Composite Tails plant
    • Continue support and participation in Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)
    Material Issue

    Continued access to water resource and protection of resource quality

    2014 Goals
    •  Fresh water use 34.3 million m3
    • 2.27 barrels water per barrel of production
    • Continue implementation of water strategy to address operational, regulatory and stakeholder risks
    • No spills to the environment
    2014 Results
    • Fresh water use of 38.8 million m3
    • 2.55 barrels water per barrel of production
    • Water strategy developed and action plan underway
    • No spills to regional water bodies, creeks or river systems; all on-site spills cleaned and/or rerouted to approved containment areas
    Ongoing Actions
    • Fresh water use of 40.7 million m3 in 2015
    • 2.55 barrels water per barrel of production in 2015
    • Achieve overall water use reduction of at least four million m3 by 2017
    • Continue to research viable treatment technologies for re-use or safe return of process water to the environment
    • Support science-based water quality monitoring
    Aboriginal Relations
    Material Issue

    Relationship-building and effective management of issues of concern

    2014 Goals
    • Increase procurement with Aboriginal businesses
    • Incorporate Traditional Land Use studies into development plans
    • Continued and effective consultation with First Nations and Métis Locals on operations and future development plans
    • Continued health, education and quality-of-life investments in Aboriginal communities
    2014 Results
    • 23% increase in Aboriginal procurement from 2013; $228 million spent in 2014
    • Consultations continued on winter drilling program and Mildred Lake mine extension project
    • Over $1 million invested in Aboriginal community projects and initiatives
    Ongoing Actions
    • Continue focus on six key commitment areas of: Corporate Leadership, Employment, Business Development, Education, Community Development, and Environment
    • Incorporate traditional Land Use studies and Traditional Environmental Knowledge into planning for proposed mine extension project
    • Develop strategy to address future recruitment and retention of Aboriginal employees
    Regulatory and Government Relations
    Material Issue  
    2014 Goals
    • Continued active engagement on policy and regulatory issues affecting operations and future development
    • Submit regulatory application for proposed Mildred Lake mine extension project
    2014 Results
    • Executive and senior management representation on key industry associations (e.g. Mining Association of Canada, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Alberta Chamber of Resources)
    • Regulatory application for proposed Mildred Lake mine extension project filed in Q4 2014
    Ongoing Actions
    • Finalize regulatory strategies for reclamation plans, tailings management and water return
    • Continue consultation activities with communities of interest regarding Mildred Lake mine extension and other relevant projects


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