April 25, 2023

Working toward a sustainable future the key to a healthy mining industry

Launching a new start-up company with a very niche potential client base is a risky venture at the best of times. Launching an environmental consulting business in a crowded space focusing on the mining industry is another challenge altogether. Then again, Kati McCartney and the team at FROSKR have always been more than happy to accept a challenge, especially when it comes to moving the mining industry into the future.

FROSKR is a company offering innovative consulting and technologically based solutions designed to help the mining industry as they work to overcome the complex environmental challenges that come from the rising demand for critical minerals to support the new green economy while reducing their own contributions to climate change. Navigating those often-tumultuous waters while weaving a story full of hope and optimism for a greener, more sustainable future has been a hallmark of FROSKR’s efforts since arriving in Sudbury as an offshoot of its sister company, BESTECH.

“I think it’s an interesting story for Sudbury because the area has attained global reach with accolades for the reclamation and regreening success we’ve seen in the region,” said McCartney. The fact that the economy can support another environmental company in a saturated market shows the immediate need. I imagine that back in the day, when mining was booming, people may have thought that implementing environmental practices would have come at a high cost. In fact, it’s the opposite. FROSKR is an example of how partnering with an environmental company can spur development and create jobs in the mining industry and in the north.”

According to McCartney, there are four phases to the mining lifecycle. There is the exploration and feasibility phase, the planning and construction phase, and the infrastructure and resources phase involved in the actual mining operation. Finally, there is the mine closure phase which includes reclamation and regreening of the surrounding area. FROSKR is a company that offers environmental consulting expertise during all phases of a mine’s lifecycle. However, according to the company president, FROSKR is selective when it comes to clients.

“What really makes us different is who we choose to work with. We are actively seeking partners that are playing a role in fighting climate change. They may be mining lithium so they can meet the demands of a new green economy, but they are looking to do it in a more sustainable way than they used to. That’s one of our favourite motivators; it’s exciting to find clients to work with who share our values and vision.”

McCartney acknowledges mining’s reputation as an invasive industry with the potential to change habitats and landscapes and understands concerns about the industry’s ability to operate in a greener, more sustainable fashion. Through the efforts of a company like FROSKR, McCartney said not only is real change possible, but it is happening right now.

“Mining is invasive. There’s no way to get around it,” she said. “Full stop, there is no world, no society without mining. For those protesters who don’t support mining, their posters don’t get printed without a printer, and printers are made from mined metals and minerals. It feels overwhelming. It feels impossible, but what we do at FROSKR is advocate for change. We have that optimism and hope because we see the changes and industry shifts happening in real-time. We’ve seen firsthand the ability to regreen while maintaining the strong economic prosperity that comes from mining. We have seen it in our own backyard here in the north. When you look at Sudbury, and you see what’s possible with regreening, that’s not through the efforts of mining companies exclusively. There’s an entire ecosystem of people pulling that off. That’s what we love to highlight.”

In an industry that thrives on innovation, FROSKR is a company that is quick to adopt new methods and cutting-edge processes to achieve its goals.

“At FROSKR, we do real-time environmental monitoring, where we monitor consistently and share transparently. Using this method, anyone in the community can access environmental data at any time to feel safe in their environment, and stakeholders can be proactive where necessary. In the past, companies could only assess their environmental impact by sending samples to a lab and waiting weeks for results, which is not an efficient method for mitigating risks and ensuring our community’s safety.”

FROSKR also prioritizes supporting First Nations in the region where mining projects and extractive activities are happening on their traditional lands.

“We have much to learn from their extensive history of land stewardship. What we see is an ability to support and be part of Indigenous communities in new ways that had not been done in the past,” said McCartney. “We look to engage our Indigenous partners more meaningfully in these operations and to support them or have them support us.”

McCartney said the team at FROSKR is not deterred by the often-ambitious climate change goals the mining industry is faced with, whether they were established internally or by regulators. As a local Sudbury company operating as an ally to the northern Ontario mining industry, they see mining companies actively adopting new technologies and changing processes to help reduce emissions, and that in itself is a reason for optimism.

“It’s reasonable for anyone to feel overwhelmed by the ambitious targets set and the progress required to meet them, but the technology does exist to help us get there. When you question whether mining companies promise huge reductions in GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, isn’t it better to set a target and start working toward them than to do nothing at all? Some of the increases in demand for things like lithium and cobalt are skyrocketing because of the development of greener, more renewable infrastructure, and mining companies are capitalizing on that. But if making batteries or wind turbines isn’t done in a sustainable way, then it doesn’t really put us any farther ahead. While historically, environmental targets may have seemed idealistic or ambitious, today; they almost seem realistic. That is what drives us forward and keeps us advocating for changes in the mining industry. For us, at FROSKR, supporting these changes is mission critical.”

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