Our core products come from the earth and the finite availability of the essential minerals we provide instills a deep respect for, and commitment to, the environment. Our pursuit of excellence in environmental stewardship and performance translates that respect into action.
Our approach to environmental compliance and management focuses on minimizing adverse environmental impacts and preserving natural resources for future generations. It addresses the impacts of our operations and the distribution and use of our products, promoting sustainability practices across the value chain.
Management of environmental impacts and improvements occur through multiple, integrated approaches. Our Core Values, Corporate Sustainability Principles and Code of Ethics provide a foundation that emphasizes shared responsibility for environmental stewardship. Our Environmental, Health, Safety and Security (EHS&S) Policy outlines company-wide principles for identifying and applying industry best practices throughout our operations, meeting or exceeding EHS&S laws and regulations where they exist and applying best practices and standards where laws and regulations do not exist. In 2017, we also expect to introduce a specific Environmental Management Policy to heighten our commitment to this area.
Improving the efficiency of our products and production processes is one of the most significant ways we can reduce our environmental impact. Developing products that meet more stringent standards and guidelines, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice label (formerly the Design for the Environment label) awarded to our deicing products and the listing of our sulfate of potash (SOP) products as Organic Input Materials (OIM) by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) brings effective options with reduced environmental impacts to market.
The board-level EH&S Committee oversees environmental management, policies, targets and procedures for monitoring performance. Multiple positions within the Compass Minerals organization handle regulatory compliance, audits and reporting requirements set by the countries in which we operate. Plant managers at each facility work with key corporate partners to ensure site-level environmental management is met and performance expectations are achieved.
Site-Specific Environmental Management
Each of our key production and packaging sites has unique considerations for environmental management due to the variety of production processes used, geographic location and jurisdiction. In 2017, we will undertake a multi-year process of developing Environmental Management Plans for all our sites. Environmental compliance with applicable regulations will be the focus of an in-depth permit review process slated to occur at the majority of our sites in the first half of 2017 with the remainder occurring in 2018. Environmental initiatives for all Compass Minerals sites have been receiving more attention through our Continuous Improvement Program, and our sites have been encouraged to develop strategies and engineering improvements that will improve our performance as it relates to Greenhouse Gas Emissions, power and water consumption. The Hearts & Minds program has also been used for environmental improvements at our Ogden, Utah, site, targeting waste management and making improvements in how the site manages hazardous waste and complies with Resource Conservation and Recovery Act requirements.
Evaluation and Improvement
We evaluate the effectiveness of our approach by setting targets and monitoring key performance indicators at the site level and company-wide. Encouraging employee involvement helps proactively identify and address areas for process improvement.
We utilize third-party environmental audits to establish a more accurate and comprehensive baseline from which to evaluate our performance. Since 2015, our Ogden, Utah, and Lyons, Kansas, sites have both been subject to external environmental compliance audits. Additionally, we are conducting in-depth permit reviews in 2017, and will continue both internal and third-party environmental audits in 2018. We have recently implemented an environmental data management system to streamline efforts such as environmental permitting, data collection and reporting.
Compass Minerals set the following company-wide intensity-based targets for 2020 with a three-year average as our baseline. We chose the three-year average as a baseline to account for the variability in our production levels. This variability can distort the underlying performance of the company when metrics are based on per-unit data. For our salt products, year-to-year production variability is largely driven by winter weather variations impacting demand in our end markets. Production of our SOP products can vary as a result of swings in demand due to the broader agriculture market as well as from weather-related conditions, such as drought or low water levels in the Great Salt Lake.
In 2017 we continued to execute the projects that we expect will ultimately assist us in achieving our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions intensity and energy intensity targets. In total, our results for the targeted metrics this year were above the prior baseline. This was primarily a result of lower production volumes at our North American salt mines following a mild winter which reduced the demand for highway deicing salt. We estimate that variations from average production levels elevated our per-unit energy and emissions results by approximately 20 percent. On a site-by-site basis we are achieving success. Four of our sites including our Cote Blanche mine, our Ogden, Utah, operations and our salt evaporation plants in Lyons, Kansas and Amherst, Nova Scotia, achieved their 2020 targeted Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reductions in 2017.
There were no material environmental fines or penalties associated with regulatory noncompliance, whether individually or collectively with its subsidiaries, incurred in 2017.
Since energy powers and fuels our operations, it represents the greatest opportunity to reduce GHG emissions and combat climate change. The carbon footprint of our industrial products is quite small relative to chemical producers for a number of reasons: our products are naturally occurring, we use solar evaporation in a significant portion of our production and few chemical processes are needed for production at our facilities.
Our carbon footprint results from electricity usage and the fuel used for harvesting, drying or mining minerals. A significant portion of our purchased electricity from our local utility providers is produced with natural gas. Other purchased fuels, such as diesel, gasoline and kerosene, power our underground rock salt mining, mechanical evaporation operations and our packaging facilities.
Energy and emissions are managed under our overall environmental management approach. We regularly look for ways to conserve energy, increase efficiency and reduce costs. Through improvements and innovations in processes and technology as well as investments in fuel-efficient equipment, we achieve economic and environmental benefits. Some improvements are small in scale, such as optimizing forklift routing.
Large-scale improvement projects, such as the increasing use of continuous mining at the Goderich rock salt mine, deliver environmental and efficiency benefits. The continuous mining process will reduce the use of diesel-powered equipment we historically have used by replacing it with high-efficiency, electric-powered equipment. Continuous mining will also replace the drill-and-blast mining process, eliminating the explosive blasting used in this process. Both activities will improve air quality underground. Once fully implemented, we expect continuous mining not only to reduce our carbon footprint at Goderich, but also to decrease our annual operating costs by $30 million.
TRANSPORTATION: Getting our products to the markets we serve contributes to the environmental impact of our products. We manage the environmental impacts of product transportation by identifying the most efficient and cost-effective form of product distribution. Because of the weight and market price of bulk rock salt, it is generally not economical to transport more than 200 miles unless shipped by water. As a result, 60 to 65% of our ton miles shipped are via water transport. We have developed an extensive depot network to complement our waterway transportation system, which enables us to serve our customers efficiently. By using vessels when possible to deliver our deicing salt to our key markets in North America, we reduce fuel usage and emissions—and minimize costs. We also partner with transportation providers who actively seek to reduce their own carbon footprint.
*Represents all shipping procured directly by Compass Minerals
OTHER AIR EMISSIONS: Our production processes produce other regulated air emissions, which are monitored and managed for regulatory compliance.
Evaluation and Improvement
Continuous improvement is a key objective in our production efforts. We have set reduction goals for energy and GHG emissions from electricity and fuel (see data tables). We monitor progress to goals at each site and company-wide. We frequently evaluate our production processes and initiate projects to achieve further energy and cost reductions.
DeepStore has continued to strengthen its ecological credentials by investing in a fleet of six electric-powered vehicles for operation in its underground facility at the Winsford, U.K., mine. The new fleet has replaced the diesel-powered utility vehicles, which have been used to transport documents around the mine for several years. The electric vehicles offer a reliable and efficient alternative to the standard diesel vehicles on the market. Each has a payload capacity of 850 Kg and a range of 65 miles between charges.
This transition is evidence of our company’s commitment to improve atmospheric conditions within DeepStore for employees and to reduce our carbon footprint.
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
|Scope 1 Direct Emissions
|Scope 2 Energy Indirect
Emissions (Tonnes CO2e)
|Scope 1 Emissions Intensity
(Kg CO2e/tons production*)
|Scope 1+2 Emissions Intensity
(Kg CO2e/tons production*)
Water is a precious natural resource for all life, and it plays an important role in our production processes. Compass Minerals uses water from a variety of sources, including lake brine from the Great Salt Lake, untreated ground water and municipal potable water. Most of the water used is derived from salt water sources and does not negatively impact fresh water availability in the watersheds where we operate.
Our management approach, which is part of our overall environmental management approach, focuses on minimizing the consumption of fresh water, ensuring the quality of water released back into the resource stream and addressing site-specific water issues. For example, salt mining, evaporation and storage processes, as well as salt product use, carry risks of salt contamination of the aquifers and aquatic ecosystems. We work to mitigate potential impacts through process improvements as well as education and training on the responsible use of our products.
Water impacts and issues vary by location; therefore, ongoing engagement, collaboration and coordination with local stakeholder groups, such as participation in working groups on water policy, is another aspect of our management approach.
SALT WATER: Most of our water consumption is related to solar evaporation processes at Utah’s Great Salt Lake, which doesn’t contain fresh water. There, brine from the lake is pumped into large open ponds where sun and wind evaporate the water and crystallize the minerals contained in the water, which are then harvested and processed. Solar evaporation provides a low-cost, low-carbon generating production process. Our Ogden, Utah, facility is one of five in the world using this environmentally responsible, best-in-class method.
Many of our evaporation ponds employ barriers in the pond walls to improve the yield efficiency of the evaporation process. The building of these walls, which we call pond sealing, was developed by our engineers to reduce brine loss and retain more of the most concentrated brine for evaporation, thus resulting in increased mineral harvest. In retaining the brine more effectively, we require less water volume for evaporation, thereby reducing overall water consumption in our Great Salt Lake operations.
A number of factors including weather and the challenges associated with the operation of over 55,000 acres of solar evaporation ponds can greatly affect year-to-year water consumption. One of these key factors relates to the Great Salt Lake’s water level. Lower lake levels due to drought reduced our consumption of lake brine in 2016, while harvested feedstock from the ponds actually increased. Although some of the increased harvest volumes resulted from our pond-sealing project, our operations there also benefited from the use of reserved lake brines which had higher mineral concentrations.
FRESH WATER: Our fresh water consumption primarily stems from our Ogden facility and our four mechanical evaporation facilities. At our mechanical evaporation facilities, we inject water into salt beds positioned no shallower than 1,500 feet below ground surface to form a brine solution. The process captures and recycles this water for the production of steam energy for our plants. Our rock salt mining activities consume little water in their production processes.
Evaluation and Improvement
We evaluate the effectiveness of our approach by monitoring performance on a number of measures. In addition, we have set a 5% reduction goal from our 2013-2015 baseline average for fresh water intensity (gallons per ton of product) by 2020 and assess progress to goals at each site and company-wide. Oversight and improvement are coordinated through our overall environmental management approach.
Our total operational fresh water consumption for 2013-2016 is shown below, broken down by water source, water required per ton of product manufactured and the amount recycled.
|(all units millions of gallons, except percentages)||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017|
|Total Fresh Water||15,305||14,136||12,884||10,202||13,140|
|Water Intensity (gallons per ton of product)||1,251||1,100||986||1,054||1,260|
|Percentage of Water Recycled||64%||66%||64%||68%||66%|
Although our material inputs and waste are relatively small in scale, we seek opportunities to minimize our impacts further by sourcing more environmentally friendly packaging alternatives and reducing waste where possible. Beginning in 2017, we expect to place increased attention on waste reduction efforts.
MATERIALS: Compass Minerals did not consume significant quantities of materials purchased from third-party providers in 2016. We typically sell more than 12 million tons of product annually, depending on weather-driven demand patterns and other factors, and only a minor fraction of the product produced requires sourcing from third-party vendors. We purchase some potassium chloride to use as a raw material to supplement our pond-based feedstock from the lake for the production of SOP. We also purchase micronutrient feedstock, which we process into Wolf Trax™ products. We also use a small amount of potassium chloride and calcium chloride to blend with our deicing products, creating value-added performance benefits. Raw materials sourced for our production processes in 2016 represented less than 1% of our total production.
Bulk minerals, which we extract at the point of source and ship and sell unpackaged, represent the majority of our sales. Thus, our packaging materials are minimal relative to our total tonnage.
Over 75 percent of the salt we produced in 2016 was bulk product delivered directly to our customers. The remaining quantity was bagged, jugged or otherwise packaged, using plastic and/or paper packaging. Packaging is used for some of our consumer and industrial salt products and our Wolf Trax™micronutrients. We utilize recyclable packaging where practical.
WASTE: Our production processes generate small quantities of waste and very limited hazardous waste. Overall, our solid waste is minimal. Still, we look for and implement improvements that minimize waste and other impacts, as part of our overall commitment to environmental stewardship.
Evaluation and Improvement
We monitor materials, packaging and waste measures as part of managing our overall environmental footprint at both the corporate level and at each of our production and packaging sites. In 2017, we expect to add metrics for waste to our 2020 targets.
Several of our facilities are adjacent to protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value outside of protected areas. These facilities in Ogden, Utah, and Wynyard, Saskatchewan, Canada, are close to saline lakes, which are positioned along a migratory bird flyway of international significance stretching from Marismas Nacionales, Mexico, to Quill Lakes, Saskatchewan. The Great Salt Lake is centrally located, providing a popular stopover for rest, nourishment and mating. We are committed to protecting the ecosystems and biodiversity in the areas where we operate.
Our overall approach to environmental stewardship, including responsible water management, seeks to minimize and mitigate impacts on biodiversity. To understand potential impacts on local ecosystems and biodiversity, we engage and collaborate with multiple stakeholders and commission environmental impact assessments. A couple sites, such as our U.K. facility, have instituted ecological monitoring.
We work with partners to develop and implement reclamation plans for ponds, which are informed by environmental assessments and stakeholder input, to restore areas and create additional avian habitat, such as protected nesting islands. Furthermore, we work closely with our stakeholders not only to mitigate our own operational impacts but also to advocate for conservation of local habitats.
From the perspective of how our products are used, we've developed products to achieve optimal performance and limited environmental impact, using the most efficient product standards set by our industry. We actively promote responsible rock salt use, recognizing that our products carry some inevitable impact regardless of production improvements. We focus heavily on developing controls for responsible product use and for limiting mineral loss into the environment during storage. Furthermore, we provide customers with training tools for the storage and use of our products in order to minimize potential environmental impacts.
Evaluation and Improvement
Ongoing monitoring and evaluation at our sites adjacent to areas of high biodiversity value help ensure our operations are protective of that biodiversity. Understanding the impacts of our operations and identifying opportunities to improve rely on scientific research. We facilitate access for Weber State University, Utah State University, stakeholder groups and regulatory agencies to our pond dikes to advance the study of avian-human interactions.
Through collaboration with local stakeholders, including state and federal agencies, our Ogden, Utah, site developed the West Pond Sustainability Project and Reclamation Plan to mitigate operational impacts. This plan optimizes pond operations and commits to restoring pond areas and improving local avian habitats. Sealing the pond walls has enabled us to reduce brine consumption, while supporting the habitats that protect shorebirds from predators. The first phase of the project was implemented in the eastern pond complex in 2014, and we are poised to start the west pond component in the near future. Ultimately, the project will reduce the annual amount of brine consumption from the Great Salt Lake by approximately 20 percent, as well as provide protections to shorebird habitat. Taking a holistic, collaborative and comprehensive approach to protecting valued resources and facilitating smart growth earned the company the Utah Governor’s Excellence in Energy Award, the Environmental Leader of the Year Award and the Earth Day Award from the Board of Directors – Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining in 2016.