Imerys Talc is the world’s leading producer of talc. The company operates on five continents (nine deposits) and supplies roughly 15 percent of the global talc demand. As the company continues to grow, its North American division is leading the way.
Location, location, location
The group is currently enjoying success at its Penhorwood Mine and concentrator along with the Timmins Micronizing Facility in Canada, increasing talc production at record paces. Canada, which is renowned for exceptionally high quality talc, has become a jackpot for company.
“The talc in Canada is different than talc found in other regions around the world,” says Jeff Errett, operations manager at Imery’s Canadian division. “Talc from Canada does something radically different then other places. A lot of the deposits around the world are very pure, here in Canada the deposits are less Pure but the concentrator enables the operation to create a unique quality unmatched in the industry.
The mineral possesses a unique combination of properties that improve performance in a wide range of industrial applications including paper, paints, plastics, rubber, ceramics, agriculture, food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
“Our Canadian Operations are consistently producing world -class products,” says Errett. “The talc that comes from Canadian deposits provides a lot of strength characteristics that other talc can’t match.”
“We're pushing the limits now, doing around 350 tons a day of Concentrate while feeding over 1000 tons a day of Ore,” says Errett.
Through drilling and proven and probable recordings, the Penhorwood Mine is expected to produce for approximately 50 years.
Health and safety
According to Errett, another major component to Imerys’ success at its Canadian Operations is health and safety.
“We have a bunch of safety programs in place not because we have to, but because we believe in them.”
The company has leveraged its open line of communication among employees to report accident that normally wouldn’t be reported. “Because most employees don’t like reporting incidents, we have a program in place that promotes it,” says Errett.
“Our view is if we can get those incidents in, report them and analyze them, it will better assist us in increasing safety.”
He adds, “The employees have really bought into the reporting process and it’s helping us make things safer.”
Empowering employees to speak up and provide insight on day-to-day operations has only made things safer at Imerys Talc.
“Our employees have a contagious attitude towards safety. We’ll have contractors come here and employees will actually talk to them and encourage them to use safety precautions in every aspect of the job,” says Errett.
The company recognizes employees are at risk for stresses and strains associated with mining and has implemented a pre-shift stretching program.
“We started to get people to stretch before each shift with different employees leading the stretching. I’ve seen it go from something so formal and rigid to now where everyone participates. We care about the health of our employees,” says Errett.
Although success for the Canadian Operations has been largely attributed to its location, the mine, Mill and Micronizing plant is a shining example of how company culture (when implemented effectively) can impact mining operations for the better.
“Our company is focused on continuous improvements. In everything we do, we’re always looking to improve,” says Errett. “Our employees see the value in it and its lead to some pretty amazing developments.”
The company strives to employ great people, continuously working with recruiters and human resources to integrate a strong staff.
“Our hiring process is great,” says Errett. “We’re very careful who we hire because they have to have the right attitude and passion. One of the reasons are turnover rate is so low is our internal feedback process.”
Imerys allows employees to provide feedback on the hiring process as well as day-to-day operations.
“It allows us to hear what they think and the problems associated,” says Errett. “It allows us to obtain feedback and get better.”
Thanks to the company’s safety record and safety programs, Imerys Talc has become a workplace of choice.
“One of the big things we’re known for is our safety record. 10 years without a loss time accident. That’s very attractive for employees,” says Errett.
With the right people in place, the company has been able to build a strong and reliable company culture that promotes open communication.
“Our teams have to rely on each other and communicate,” says Errett. “Their actions impact everyone else.”