In a world that needs metals, how can we mine more responsibly?

The Narwhal

Deer Horn Capital is seeking one of the newest and most highly regarded global mining standard certificates for its tellurium project in B.C. — a first for Canadian exploration companies

Ryan Stuart 

It may not have the allure of gold, but as a key component of solar panels, next generation batteries and computer memory chips, there is a rush on finding new deposits of tellurium, a so-called critical metal. 

It’s produced in small amounts as a by-product of heavy metal mining, but a potentially richer source is in the Coast Mountains, south of Smithers, B.C. That’s where Vancouver-based Deer Horn Capital hopes to dig up 10,000 tonnes of rock in 2021 as a bulk test, a first step toward building a small tellurium, gold and silver mine. 

But even before the company starts blasting, Deer Horn is breaking ground. It is one of the first mining-related firms in Canada to join the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, or IRMA. Deer Horn was the first exploration company to work with the sustainable and responsible mining standard and remains the only one that has made those efforts public. 

“We want to do it right from the start,” explains Tony Fogarassy, Deer Horn’s chairman. “There are too many crappy mines out there. For things to change, we need a different approach. IRMA represents that different approach.”

Interest is growing in standards that guide the mining industry toward more responsible and sustainable ways of doing business. Consumers, the companies that use metals, NGOs and communities are increasingly scrutinizing the ethics and practices of an industry with a notorious record of environmental disastersabandoned projects and allegations of human rights abuses.

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