Sudbury, Ontario-based A&M Remediation is a multi-trade contractor that offers specialized, comprehensive underground waste and facility management services for clients in the mining industry.
And here’s the good, surprising part: A&M’s services consistently improve operational efficiency and profitability for clients while fulfilling the growing demands of environmental stewardship that all in the industry face.
A&M Remediation has a long history of environmental stewardship. The company started life as A&M Reforestation in 1983, which is where its President and founder, Paul Thususka, met many of those who still work for the company today. They brought the same work ethic and drive to mining, stand-out qualities that caught the attention of a mine supervisor in 2012.
As Thususka whimsically recalls, “He saw what our team was doing with tree planting and said they could use some help underground in a logistics form, but what he really meant was, he didn’t have a problem with logistics, he had a problem with garbage.”
Finding new focus
Visiting the underground mine, Thususka was confronted with the reality of day-to-day refuse: water bottles, oil pans, and other discarded materials which make an already dangerous and harsh work environment even tougher, not to mention the environmental challenges they create.
As a result, A&M developed some specialized equipment and a process that would not only solve the garbage problem for this mine, it would lead to a future full of opportunity that would take the company into multiple mines, enabling it to expand the service and make a positive impact on a wide swathe of the industry and the environment alike.
A&M Remediation has come a long way from tree-planting, but the mission behind its services remains the same: to improve operational performance, profitability, and environmental outcomes for its clients by taking on tasks that may have been overlooked and doing them with enthusiasm and vigour.
Manager of Staff Development and Support Jake Geale explains it simply, “The gist for us is, if we can help the mine run more smoothly and efficiently, we’re taking on those tasks.”
A breadth of services
A&M’s comprehensive services include waste management: the capture, separation, compaction, and management of a variety of materials including, but not limited to, wood, plastic, batteries, e-waste, hazardous waste, and waste oil. Similarly, A&M offers asset recovery, workplace organization, bin management, latrine/refuge maintenance, mould remediation, compliance reports, dust suppression, and invaluable logistical support.
“I’m not sure there’s another comprehensive waste management program that checks all those boxes,” says Operations Manager Chris Hendsbee of A&M’s willingness to take on the responsibilities that companies or individuals can’t or won’t.
For the team at A&M, it’s personal: they are consummate outdoor-ers and caring members of their communities who understand the importance of preserving and protecting the environment, while simultaneously balancing industrial priorities. They also have the drive to see it through.
“We brought young, idealistic, hardworking individuals who thrived in adverse conditions and had a deep care for the environment into mining. We cared about the environment and we were willing to push the limits in that regard,” says Hendsbee.
At the end of the day, A&M takes pride in a job well done; in this case, there’s a lot to be proud of. The team is shining a light on a resolvable challenge that was always an unchecked box on a long to-do list before A&M’s foray into the market.
As Hendsbee says, “Mines generally don’t know what they spend on things like waste management. We do studies and we know how much time, money, and labour hours our clients are saving when they have us in their mine.”
Those savings amount to millions of dollars and go a long way to supporting green initiatives and improving the reputation of the industry. They also generate impressive results from a sustainability standpoint. To date, A&M has reduced landfill waste volume by 94 percent, diverted more than 100,000 litres of waste oil from waste streams and groundwater, captured 97 percent of waste materials (industrial and domestic) in its processes, improved shaft efficiency between 17 and 30 percent, and achieved a 24:1 haulage rate on-ramp of waste material. Moreover, A&M is able to eliminate MOL orders related to waste management.
“When you’re talking about garbage and reducing the volume, you’re reducing the amount of handling that has to be done,” says Hendsbee. “Garbage doesn’t make money. Waste doesn’t make money. Producing more, manufacturing more, delivering more—our services facilitate a lot of that.”
Bigger than waste
What A&M offers goes far beyond waste. Further to improving its clients’ performance and environmental outcomes, a secondary goal is to bring trust back to the relationship between industry and First Nations including a better understanding of their history, culture, and beliefs to preserve the environment for these and future generations.
A&M has positioned its work in the context of the “94 Calls to Action” of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Thususka explains that this has “allowed us to extend our reach into industry in a different manner to make a difference and it really feels like we’re doing something.” The effects have been far-reaching.
This is where Director of First Nations Outreach Steven Miller comes in to bridge the gap in knowledge and shine a light on the truth, as reconciliation is not possible without it. A&M is doing its part to communicate the truth through training programs, job fairs, and growth, and through development activities at the individual and organizational levels.
“We’ve got to walk softly and speak gently,” says Miller. “The past is the past, you can’t change it, but our future—not only for us but for generations to come—depends on today’s decisions and tomorrow’s planning.”
For Miller, that means “Mutual benefit, from employment opportunities to business opportunities; trying to build relationships between individuals at A&M and individuals from First Nations; also between A&M the organization and the First Nations as an organization; and trying to find ways that we can benefit one another.”
He adds, “If you examine the history of mining—and the waste it produces—to help the industry grow, you’ll see that people want clean air, a clean environment, and clean water. And when a company has a vision of how to help the industry look better, that’s a stepping stone.”
Miller, like many others, recognizes that A&M is a unique business doing innovative things to help reconciliation between First Nations and Settler communities, as well as seeking out harmony between industry, the environment, and the community.
Offering unique services takes a unique approach and a culture of continuous improvement, hard work, and reflection. At A&M that includes a commitment to safety, diversity, and the cultivation of a positive work environment as the foundational pillars of success.
“It’s driven by the engagement of our workers and the creation and caretaking of all our policies and practices,” says Manager of Health and Safety Programs and Training Daryl Bransfield. “This fosters buy-in to sustain a healthy work culture.”
Embedded in the culture that A&M is creating is the conscious determination to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. As Geale says, “We’re making efforts to work with all demographics that are underrepresented in the mining industry, including women, BIPOC folks, the LGBTQ+ community, and newcomers to Canada.”
The team at A&M understands that diversity in perspectives and skills is the key to innovation, and paired with passion and a commitment to continuous learning, the sky is the limit to what can be achieved: a success that’s being shared with communities.
Since 2012, A&M has also found many other ways to give back to the community. In addition to being an employer of choice, the company is a sponsor of community events, sports teams, local organizations, and local conservation efforts.
A&M has proved that you can have good intentions at heart, protect the environment and the communities you call home, offer fulfilling careers to employees, and still drive profitability for clients.
The goal now, Thususka jokes, is “world domination,” which will begin with expansion across markets and industries. In so doing, A&M will exponentially grow its positive impact on its clients, the environment, and the communities with which it works in Canada and beyond.