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Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development



Thursday, June 18, 2015

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]



    I call to order meeting number 63 of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. We're meeting today pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) on our study of the role of the private sector in Canada in showing leadership by partnering with not-for-profit organizations to undertake local environmental initiatives.
    Appearing today by video conference from Toronto, from Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, we have Louise Grondin, senior vice-president, and by video conference from Calgary, Alberta, from Suncor Energy Inc., Arlene Strom, vice-president, sustainability and communications.
     We will begin with 10-minute opening statements from each of you.
     We will begin with Louise Grondin, senior vice-president of Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, for a 10-minute opening statement. Immediately following that, we will have Arlene Strom.
    Ms. Grondin, please proceed.
     Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. Thank you for this opportunity to talk about local environmental initiatives that we have undertaken in Canada in partnership with not-for-profit organizations.
    Agnico Eagle is a Canadian gold mining company that has been producing precious metals since 1957. We operate eight mines in Canada, mainly in Quebec and Nunavut, as well as in Mexico and Finland, and we employ more than 6,200 people worldwide.
    Let's talk first about some of our initiatives in Nunavut.
     Our operating mine in Nunavut, the Meadowbank mine, is located 110 kilometres from the hamlet of Baker Lake in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut. We've been operating the mine since 2010, providing employment to about 280 Inuit workers from the region, or about 35% of our workforce. Since start-up, the mine has provided over $80 million in wages and $940 million in supply contracts with Nunavut-based companies.
    Since the mine's opening, Meadowbank has undertaken environmental initiatives in the area of waste and wildlife management. The stakeholders we've been partnering with in the region are the local hamlet of Baker Lake, the Government of Nunavut's environmental department, and universities.
    Nunavut is a remote territory and has no local facility to deal with hazardous waste or waste recycling. This makes waste management more complex for both the Meadowbank mine and the nearby hamlet of Baker Lake. A few initiatives were undertaken by Agnico Eagle in cooperation with Baker Lake in the area of waste management.
    We were asked by the Hamlet of Baker Lake for help in addressing how they could better manage hazardous waste accumulating at their municipal landfill site. These accumulated wastes had no form of containment. We brought in an external Nunavut-based environmental company, which worked with the hamlet to sort through this material, remove it from the landfill, place it in appropriate packaging, and load it into shipping containers that we then shipped to licenced waste-handling facilities in the south. A total of 25 containers were prepared for shipment during the 2011 shipping season.
    In addition, an old landfill in Baker Lake had been closed for over 20 years but was still used to store used barrels, obsolete heavy equipment, scrap metal, and used tires, which were strewn around the site. We endeavoured to work with the hamlet to clean up all this material and return the land as close as possible to its original state. A total of 354 tonnes of scrap metal and 94 tonnes of old tires were recovered and shipped from Baker Lake to Bécancour, Quebec, during the annual sealift in 2011, to be safely disposed of at licensed recycling companies in southern Canada. Over a three-week period, Agnico staff, with the help of five local members, diligently restored the site. The program cost Agnico Eagle an estimated $75,000.
    In 2014 the Meadowbank employee environmental committee undertook an initiative to recycle wood pallets with the community of Baker Lake. Meadowbank already sorts its materials before disposal. Hazardous materials and metal are separated and shipped south each year for proper disposal or reuse. It became obvious that wooden pallets could also be reused. Instead of being sent to landfill for disposal, used pallets that are clean and free from contamination are now collected and taken to the community. One major user is the local high school shop class, where the teacher plans projects for students to learn woodworking skills and produce usable items such as sheds and sleds. In 2014 more than 500 pallets were saved from the landfill and reused.
    Nunavut is a huge territory, and it is difficult for the Government of Nunavut to gather data to help in their wildlife management. Agnico Eagle has helped in the area of caribou migration tracking, raptor protection, and aquatic life monitoring. We believe that increased understanding of terrestrial and aquatic life in Nunavut will help minimize the effects of project development.
    For the past decade, there has been much debate about the reliability of information about migration patterns and herd ranges of barren land caribou populations, particularly the status of the Beverly caribou herd. In 2009, the population was reported to have sharply declined. Elders held the belief that the population had rather likely shifted its calving grounds to the north. We began participating in the caribou collaring and satellite tracking program in 2008. The program involves the mining industry, caribou management boards, and the Government of Nunavut Department of Environment. The tracking information gathered to date indicates that the Beverly caribou herd has indeed shifted its calving grounds from the central barrens near Baker Lake to the coastal regions around Queen Maud Gulf.


     To date Meadowbank has funded the deployment of 25 caribou collars for a cost of over $250,000. In 2011 Meadowbank contributed an additional $35,000 to estimate the number of breeding females in the Beverly herd. In 2013 we committed to an additional three-year contribution in support of the regional caribou monitoring program.
    We also work closely with the University of Guelph to improve aquatic monitoring methods and to inform future aquatic ecology research in the north. Furthermore, we've worked on refining current methods of evaluating fish habitat and productivity of a fishery with consultants and academic researchers and provided our raw fish out data and habitat mapping to DFO scientists. At the regional level the data and tools used at Meadowbank are currently being applied by Agnico Eagle and other consultants at other proposed projects in Nunavut. We believe that these improvements in understanding of aquatic ecology will help future management of the resource.
    Agnico Eagle has also been working with the University of Alberta and a local group of wildlife experts based in Rankin Inlet on site-specific protective measures for raptors at Meadowbank. We are also working to extend terrestrial modelling to include linkages to aquatic food webs, which will also assist to inform productivity models.
    The raptors and fisheries researchers are training future master's students and local field assistants while collecting valuable monitoring data.
    I will now move to environmental initiatives in the Abitibi region where we own and operate three mines and are in a joint partnership for the operation of a fourth mine. Our partners in that region are the Quebec Ministry of Forest, Wildlife and Parks, the Val-d'Or hunting and fishing organization, our local cottagers' association, the Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Mining and Environment Research Institute.
    In 2014 the Quebec Ministry of Forest, Wildlife and Parks with the assistance of the Val-D'or hunting and fishing association, the Sabourin Lake cottagers' association, Agnico Eagle, and other stakeholders launched a program aimed at protecting the woodland caribou herd in the Val-D'or area of Quebec. The Val-d'Or woodland caribou herd was down to 20 individuals. Inventories of recent years indicated a high mortality rate among calves, whose survival is crucial to maintaining and increasing the herd.
    The program aimed at capturing pregnant females to protect them during the calving period but also to protect calves during their first weeks of life, when they are most vulnerable to predators. Calves born in May and June are kept in an enclosure with their mother and monitored until early in July before being released into their natural habitat. This pilot project was supervised by biologists and veterinarians specialized in the management of large mammals. Such work has already been carried out successfully elsewhere, including in the Yukon. Collaboration was built with the Yukon team and resulted in the active participation of a Yukon veterinarian in the 2014 campaign.
    The program shows promising results. The first-born calf of the 2015 campaign is already up and about following his mother, and two weeks ago we had a second birth with a third on the way.
    Now I'd like to talk about our partnership to rehabilitate an orphaned tailings site. In 2004 we were looking for potential locations for a future tailings impoundment for the Goldex mine in Val-D'or. The Goldex material was chemically inert and had neutralization potential. We partnered with the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources to use this material to rehabilitate the acid-generating orphaned Manitou tailings site that had been contaminating the Bourlamaque River for decades. Rehabilitation started in 2008 with the start-up of the mine and is now more than 50% completed.
    The Mining and the Environment Research Institute is also involved in this project. Overall, this cooperation will save taxpayers' money, reduce the footprint of the Goldex mine, and resolve an environmental problem.
    This concludes my remarks. I thank you once again for the opportunity to appear before the committee today, and I would be pleased to answer your questions.


    Thank you very much. You're well within your time. We appreciate that, and you have good material.
    We want to proceed now to Arlene Strom from Suncor Energy Inc. in Calgary.
    Thank you for the opportunity to represent Suncor today. Although I'm sure you're familiar with Suncor, I thought I'd start with just a brief summary of our company.
    We're Canada's leading integrated energy company. We employ about 13,000 Canadians. We work from coast to coast. We also work closely and have business relationships with about 150 first nations and aboriginal communities across Canada. Our operations include, of course, our oil sands development and upgrading in northern Alberta, as well as conventional and offshore oil and gas production. We own and operate refineries in Edmonton, Sarnia, and Montreal. We also have a lubricants plant in Mississauga. We're active in renewable energy. We have interests in seven wind farms, and in Sarnia we operate the largest ethanol facility in Canada. Of course, many Canadians know us from our gas stations. We have almost 1,500 Petro-Canada stations across Canada.
     We're guided in our operations by our vision. We seek to be trusted stewards of valuable natural resources. It's core to our business. We're guided by our vision of sustainability. We seek economic prosperity, social well-being, and a healthy environment for today and tomorrow.
    We have a long history, of course, in the oil sands. We've been a pioneer there. The nature of that business has called for not just economic investment but real social innovation and investment in our environment over the years. I think our success is really rooted, though, in our topic today—collaboration and partnerships in the communities where we operate. We all know about the complex environment we're operating in today. It's increasingly polarized. With increasing concern over infrastructure, and concern about climate change and our relationship with indigenous communities, I think the imperative for collaboration and developing partnerships becomes even more important.
    I can't talk about collaboration without mentioning Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance. This is where we came together as a founding member several years ago with 13 other oil and gas companies to work together on improving environmental performance. We felt it was too important to compete in this area. We're very proud today that we have already shared $1 billion worth of intellectual property, best practices, and technologies. In fact, 750 technologies have already been shared. We're working hard on tailings, water, land, and GHG, and improving performance in those areas.
    I thought I'd give a few examples of some of our collaborative partnerships in the environment. One in Alberta that we're just starting, really, is with The Natural Step and Energy Futures Lab in Alberta. It's convened by Natural Step, but together with the Pembina Institute, the Banff Centre, and Suncor Energy Foundation, we are bringing together a diverse group of individuals from academia, from government, from industry, and from the environment, and some of the young leaders in Alberta to talk about what kind of energy future we want in Alberta and to think about the policy implications and the implications for the very social fabric of our communities.
    We are also a sponsor of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, which brought together economists from across the country, together with an advisory council with a broad spectrum of people from different political associations, academia, business, and environment to align on Canada's economic and environmental aspirations.
    We've also had long-time partnerships with folks like the Pembina Institute. We have worked together with them on water, land, GHG issues, offset issues, and many different issues over the years.
    Going back to 2003, we're a founding member of the Boreal Leadership Council. We're proud of the work we've done there. It's been a collaboration with first nations, resource companies, financial institutions, and leading conservation groups. We're a signatory to the boreal forest conservation framework, which calls for the establishment of a network of large interconnected protected areas covering about half of the country's boreal forest.
    Together with that partnership, we've worked with the Alberta Conservation Association. Since 2003 we have worked to set aside and protect about 3,200 hectares in Alberta's boreal forest. We've committed $4 million to that conservation effort over the years.


    I also want to mention just a few of our other collaborative organizations, where we're active in communities. One is the Oil Sands Community Alliance, which is focused on socio-economic impacts in northern Alberta. We've also been actively involved in Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo, which helps to build capacity in the non-profit sector.
     We've partnered with other companies and first nations communities in the Fort Chipewyan and Janvier communities on the sustainable communities initiative. There, we're working with youth in those communities to explore safe, healthy, and sustainable communities. A lot of that is around traditional education and helping to empower and build capacity within those youth communities.
    We're very proud of the work we've done with aboriginal communities. In 2014 alone, we spent over $450 million with aboriginal businesses, but we engage with many different advisory groups on many different issues. We've actually incorporated feedback from the aboriginal communities into our winter drilling program to help make it more successful and sustainable.
    We've also worked with the Tsuu T'ina Nation on a business incubator program. We've been helping to build sustaining business capacity within that community. In fact, recently we celebrated an evening where there were over 72 businesses represented that had worked through that business incubator.
    We're also involved in cultural awareness and healing. One of the organizations that we are proud to work with is Reconciliation Canada.
    Finally, in our investments in partnerships that create opportunities for aboriginal young people, we're very proud to partner with Indspire. I want to thank the federal government for their recent matching of $10 million. Our CEO Steve Williams co-chaired that fundraising campaign for their Building Brighter Futures effort.
    I'll probably leave it there. Our partnerships are foundational to our success, and I welcome the conversation we're about to have. I think our greatest learning over time is that community partnership goes way beyond just the dollar investment. We really believe it's important to come together with government, industry, and community to create those collective purposes and work on achieving those solutions together. I like the African proverb: if you want to go fast, go alone, and if you want to go far, go with others.
     Thank you for this opportunity.


    Thanks again for your testimony this morning.
    We'll move now to our members for questions. We'll begin with Mr. Carrie from the Conservative Party.
     Mr. Carrie, you have seven minutes.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
     I want to thank the witnesses for being here today. It's great testimony and really lets us know how involved you are out there. I think your leadership is really being noticed.
    I want to start with you, Madam Grondin. How exactly has AEM implemented the “towards sustainable mining” initiative? How has that made a difference for the environmental impact that AEM has had locally? Specifically, could you talk about your work with the Inuit in Baker Lake, Nunavut?
    Yes, we have implemented the TSM initiative of the Mining Association of Canada in all our divisions. In fact, in 2015 we went through a first external audit. In that initiative there is a community outreach protocol. We have grievance mechanisms and we need to consult our Inuit partners.
    But you know, I think we've gone way beyond that. In Nunavut, when you start the environmental assessment process, you need to gather traditional knowledge. The Inuit have been occupying the territory for thousands and thousands of years, so they know a lot more than we do just coming in. We were talking to our Inuit partners a long time before we had anything done there, and before we did the baseline study. In fact, we hired them to do the baseline study. We also gathered traditional knowledge.
    We had Inuit workers who we needed to train, so we went into the communities. We needed to explain mining to them, because Baker Lake had never seen a mine before. We had community tours to show the mine to them once it was built. We still have them once a month. People from the communities are free to come in.
     We've done a lot of culturally sensitive things. Some of the Inuit have never had a job before; some of them certainly have never had a job in an industrial complex. They sometimes feel a bit alone, so once a month we bring in elders from our surrounding communities to spend two or three days at the site. Elders in Nunavut are very respected, and their opinion and their counsel are sought.
    So in terms of what we're trying to create, we're being good neighbours and at the same time good employers. Really, the mine site is a village—a big village that's 35% Inuit.
    Now, to your knowledge, is this a world first? Has anybody else ever gone out into the community like you guys have?
    Well, in Nunavut we're the first mine, so....
    You do have to go an extra mile. These guys leave home for 14 days, and their wife—sometimes it's a husband—doesn't necessarily understand what they're doing. We recently brought spouses to the site to stay for a few days, to see what their husband or wife does and to understand what goes on. In these areas, it's quite a shock to build a big industrial complex and to work there. It takes time for people to get used to that, and I think we need to make space in our management for that.
    I don't know if it's a first, but we have Inuit HR counsellors at the site. We have Inuit HR counsellors in each of the main communities to help the families, because sometimes, if the husband is gone for 14 days, the family might need them. We're trying to help these guys. We had a lot of turnover at the beginning. We dug deep into what the issues were. That's why we're trying to solve the issues with them. I think the partnership is there.


    You mentioned in your opening speech that you work with wood pallets, turning them into sheds and sleds. You talked about caribou collars and caribou monitoring. You talked about your partnership with Guelph in fisheries aquatic ecology. I know that you've been recognized by several NGOs for working together with local communities to develop these things and with local economies to protect the environment.
    Has AEM entered voluntarily into its best practices, such as the carbon disclosure project, the global reporting initiative, and the “towards sustainable mining” initiative, or have they been entered into as a result of government regulation?
     No. Those are all voluntary.
    As you know, the first thing about improving performance is to measure. We entered the carbon disclosure project because we started measuring our greenhouse gases. Once you measure them, then you look down and ask what you can do. “Towards sustainable mining” is a systematic way of managing the most important risk you have—the tailings.
     We've recently included biodiversity. In Nunavut, biodiversity is very important. The caribou is very important to the Inuit because they still need it. It's a main staple of their diet. So if it's important to them, it's important to us. That's why we're putting money and effort into understanding the caribou migration patterns. In fact, in our Meliadine project, we changed the location of the site because it could have been interfering with the migration pattern. You live in that territory if you have a mine there, so you have to protect what's important to the Inuit, and the caribou is very important.
    How much time do I have left, Chair?
    You have about 10 seconds, so I'll think we'll move on to the next round. I'll add it on to your next time.
    Mr. Bevington, please, for seven minutes.
    Thanks to the witnesses for joining us here today.
    Ms. Strom, the participation of communities in environmental efforts has not been consistent throughout the last two decades. Perhaps you could talk to us a bit about the Cumulative Environmental Monitoring Association that was set up to do that. What happened to that particular organization?
    I'd be happy to.
    The Cumulative Environmental Monitoring Association is still in place. I think we all believe right now that there is an opportunity to bring together organizations that are doing this kind of monitoring under the joint oil sands monitoring, but one of the things the Cumulative Environmental Monitoring Association did was to engage with stakeholders in the community.
     I think our challenge is to ensure that we have the right opportunities and the right infrastructure, I would say, to ensure that this engagement is happening right now. I think we're in a bit of a transition, although the Cumulative Environmental Monitoring Association remains in place. That currently is where that sits. I think together we're working to determine what the future looks like and whether there is an opportunity to bring that stakeholder engagement piece into JOSM.


    A number of stakeholders pulled out of the organization. Is that not correct?
    That is true. That's part of the challenge. You've hit the nail right on the head there.
    On a Suncor basis, we continue to engage regularly with a number of those stakeholders that pulled out, and we believe that engagement is absolutely critical. I think part of the work we're doing in Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance and also in the Oil Sands Community Alliance is to begin to use those organizations to engage as well.
    Well, obviously people must be very concerned about penalizing environmental impacts, because that's one thing that does happen with any modern-day industrial work that goes on. Why would these groups have pulled out? Is it because they didn't feel that they had enough control over the direction this was taking?
    I'm afraid that when it comes to the actual reasons about why they would have pulled out, I have just enough information to be dangerous. If I start to speculate, I'm afraid I would mislead you. I think for us, though—
    Okay, but it does point out that when you're engaging with groups outside of government, where there are regulations in place and where you're attempting to provide a cooperative basis, there is a great need for understanding between the groups. Is that not correct?
    It is absolutely, and I can tell you about some of the Suncor initiatives we have undertaken to ensure that we are building that understanding and that deep engagement. We take our environmental experts, go into communities, and really have the kinds of conversations that allow us to explore the concerns of the first nations communities, and understand how we can partner with them on traditional knowledge, with our environmental focus, and our EH&S groups.
    As an example, in our winter drilling program, we took that engagement to the point where we were able to adjust that program based on the feedback we got from the community.
    I completely agree with you that engagement is very important. I can't speak for my industry colleagues, but I know from sitting around tables that we all believe it's important.
    Ms. Grondin, the dust on the access road had been identified as an issue. Has that issue with the community been resolved?
     There are concerns for sure. Actually, we just went through public hearings in August 2014 in Rankin Inlet about our Meliadine project. We have a 25-kilometre road there.
    You're right about the population being very concerned about dust from the road. We have mitigation measures such as speed limits and watering of the roads, and we are going to put in some monitors, some dust collectors, and we will come back to the communities and engage them on this issue, which is an issue for gravel roads everywhere.
    Certainly Nunavut is unique. They don't have roads. This is a new thing for them. We'll have to work with them and make sure we manage this issue to their satisfaction.
    Both with Baker Lake and, I'm sure, with your mine, there's a high cost of energy. What is your company's commitment to looking at sources of renewable energy?
    We've been very successful in the Northwest Territories with Ekati mine installing wind turbines. Have you done any work in this direction yet at your mine site?


    I wouldn't call that a Catch-22, but almost. It's a big capital investment to build in the north. Unfortunately, a wind turbine cannot satisfy the baseloads. If you add wind turbines, you also need to have a full capacity without the wind.
    We've done wind studies at both Meliadine and Meadowbank. It is possible to install wind turbines, but they cannot be the baseload. We would still have to have the big generators.
    In other areas, we've put solar panels and wind turbines in for telecommunications, because it's a smaller load and the batteries can supply the power.
    Okay. We're going to have to move on.
    Thank you, Ms. Strom. I was very interested in your testimony. When you talk about the environmental performance in the oil sands, I completely agree. That comes from first-hand experience, because prior to becoming an MP, I did environmental monitoring in the oil sands. I worked on the Kearl project, a project I'm sure you're quite familiar with. The care with which the companies operate was nothing short of extraordinary.
    Again, this is a very easy, quick question. I know what the answer is, but I'd like to get it on the record. I assume your operations are done under an environmental licence, and you are always in compliance with the terms and conditions of that licence. Is that correct, Ms. Strom?
     You asked if we have an environmental licence, and we absolutely do. Your question was a very particular one: are we always in compliance? Certainly, we are always striving and working to be in compliance with every piece of that. On record, there have been certain non-compliances, but we have reported and remediated in any case, and they have been very rare.
    Yes, I certainly can appreciate that.
    The manual we used on the Kearl project to implement the terms and conditions of the environmental licence was about two centimetres thick. Again, when one looks at the overall environmental performance of the oil sands, given the kind of work that's done up there, it's really quite extraordinary how well things are managed.
    Ms. Strom, do you have the figures for the number of people, roughly speaking, in Canada, whose employment or livelihoods are based on the oil sands?
    I don't have the exact number at the tip of my fingers, which I should have, but I am happy to provide that to your committee in writing as a follow-up, if you would like.
    No, I didn't expect the exact number. The one I saw, and it was a few years ago so I don't know if it's out of date or not, was that around 575,000 jobs in Canada are based on the oil sands. Actually, the number of jobs is still the same, given that production is still going on. It's the new projects, obviously, that are on hold.
    Given that there are many people, primarily on the political left, who want to see the oil sands close down, what would be the socio-economic effect if the oil sands cease production in their entirety?
    There would be many effects. We always talk about the oil sands in Canada as a driver of taxes and royalties. I believe the royalties paid in 2014 were over $1 billion, and taxes a similar amount—and that's for Suncor alone. Then there are the indirect contributions through the suppliers. We work with suppliers across Canada in every province. We work with suppliers in 49 states in the United States. We are a significant driver of economic opportunity across the country.
    In terms of the social benefit, as I said, we have operations from coast to coast. We're involved in developing and building communities from Vancouver to St. John's. The taxes and royalties that we pay allow us to have the education system and social protection that we all enjoy. I think that's part of the reason we believe it's so important to look at this on the triple bottom-line basis. I don't look at it as a balancing, but look at it as developing our resources in Canada to a place where we're actually generating the economic success we need to enjoy the social community we're looking for, in terms of education, health care, and all of those other benefits.


    I just wish the opponents of the oil sands would appreciate what you just said, because I agree with you 100%. The positive socio-economic impact of the oil sands is simply overwhelming.
    Ms. Strom, it must be endlessly frustrating for you and your company that no matter what you do in terms of environmental performance, compliance with your licence, endless consultations with groups, going over and above the studies that you need to do as required by government, there still are groups—as I said, primarily on the political left—who want the oil sands to be shut down.
    Why do you think there's that disconnect between your environmental performance, which I know is exemplary, and those who, in my view, maliciously seek to shut down the oil sands? Why can't you build a better image of what you do, given all of the positive environmental activities that you undertake?
    That is a very big question.
    At Suncor we are looking to develop trust with each of those communities. As we seek to collaborate, we're stepping into spaces where we're working with not only supporters but also opponents. We actually think we don't have a monopoly on good ideas.
    I would use the Energy Futures Lab as an example of something that I think helps minimize the polarization you're talking about. I've been to a couple of sessions already. This will be a two-year lab where we bring people together over the space of about two years and help them understand different perspectives, help them focus on those common areas that we're all seeking to have. We're all seeking to have a stronger Canada where we're continuing to improve our environment's performance and where we're dealing with challenges in climate change in a prosperous Canada.
    Thank you, Mr. Sopuck.
    Mr. McKay, please.
    To the witnesses, I particularly appreciate your being here, but I will direct my first questions to Ms. Strom.
    Suncor is a really serious player in energy generation. You're a $50-billion corporation, which makes your revenues greater than those of the Province of Alberta. So it's really quite interesting that your CEO, Steve Williams, seems to have stepped out and started a really good conversation in conjunction with Ecofiscal on climate change and pricing carbon.
    Currently in Alberta you're at about $15 a tonne for your intensity-based regime. What does that shave off the bottom line for Suncor?


    I haven't calculated what it shaves off the bottom line. I don't even have the total number we've paid into that fund over the years. But one reason we like the specified gas emitters regulation in Alberta is the focus on technology. Because it's on a marginal price, on the marginal barrel—it's an intensity-based regime—you have a flexible compliance mechanism. We're able to invest in new technologies and also able to use that price as an incentive to improve our environmental performance.
    I buy all of that. I'd be interested in knowing, and possibly the committee would as well, what that means to a corporation like Suncor in percentage terms or absolute dollars on an annualized basis.
    There's a secondary question that comes out of that. We're all interested in a cleaner environment, and energy companies are no different from the rest of us. We all think we have to breathe. In terms of the intensity-based regime, does that come out of your research budget, such that you end up doing research? You set out here a whole bunch of things—good things, I would say—that Suncor is doing for the environment. It's not clear to me how those funds get allocated among issues directly pertaining to energy generation, particularly out of the oil sands, and what gets allocated to projects that are of larger environmental impact, such as looking after water and animals and all that sort of stuff.
    Do you have any idea how that breaks out?
    From Suncor's research fund or from the technology fund?
    From both the Suncor angle and the fund itself.
    Suncor's investment in research and technology is about $175 million a year. That is spread over a broad range of projects. But when you look at our investment in tailings technology, for example, we've invested over $1 billion in TRO, which is technology that helps to speed the rate of reclamation within tailings ponds. There has been a significant capital allocation to various initiatives.
    With regard to the fund itself, I know of one example where we were an applicant to the technology fund. That's when we were working on battery storage of renewable energy power. It was about an $18-million project. I can't think of another example, but there are examples like that.
     I appreciate that this is maybe a level of detail for which you would not necessarily be prepared, but I'd be interested in how Suncor allocates its $15 per tonne and what influence it has on the fund itself.
    My secondary line of questioning has to do with the statement by your CEO, who said “Climate change is happening. Doing nothing is not an option we can choose”. He talked about the leadership position and echoed Chris Ragan, “The truth is that a federal government of any political stripe would face significant challenges instituting a top-down, one-size-fits-all carbon pricing policy, especially if associated revenues would then flow out of the provinces”. My sense, having had various oil companies into the office recently, is that there's a real appetite, particularly in Alberta, to, if you will, spread the pricing pain in the form of a tax on consumers or on the general population.
    I'd be interested in knowing Suncor's position on this conversation, in 25 words or less.


    Steve Williams has made it easy for me. He's been very clear. He believes that a broad-based carbon pricing mechanism is a necessary mechanism and that climate change is a challenge we need to address right across the value chain. We need to do our fair share. He's been very clear about that, but we need to ensure that we're addressing the challenge right across. As we know, 80% of emissions come from the tailpipe, so if all of the climate change focus is on the upstream, then we're not actually addressing the challenge to the best of our abilities.
    To me, that sounds like a tax, smells like a tax, feels like a tax, and might even be a tax.
    On that note, we're going to move to our next questioner.
    I take it that smile means yes.
    Mr. Choquette, go ahead, please, for five minutes.


    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    My thanks to the witnesses for being here.
    My first question is for the representative of Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, Louise Grondin.
    Looking at your 2014 report on sustainable development, I see that your annual reports are quite comprehensive. You have mines in Quebec, including in Abitibi, and I see you have a section on greenhouse gas emissions. Are you a participant in the Quebec-California carbon market that requires caps on emissions and carbon trading to which Quebec is a signatory? Is your company, or will it be, regulated by that carbon market?
    Our mines in Quebec are not significant greenhouse gas producers because, in Quebec, we are lucky to have access to hydroelectricity. Only the LaRonde mine, which is very deep and consequently uses more electricity, is a larger mine. It emits more than 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
    My apologies, Ms. Grondin, but I have very little time at my disposal.
    That's the threshold for having to make a declaration; the other mines emit less than 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. So we are not subject to the cap or to the greenhouse gas emissions trading system. That does not mean we are not making efforts to reduce energy consumption, as all our mines, under the Towards Sustainable Mining initiative, must have a program for reducing energy consumption. First, we have to measure and then—
    Sorry to interrupt, Ms. Grondin, but we have very little time. That is why I am rushing you a bit.
    If I understand correctly, you are currently not subject to the carbon market, but what do you think about that idea in general? I see that you are making tremendous efforts. You have reduced your intensity by 28% in one year. That was last year, so from 2013 to 2014. You are making efforts. How interested is your company in participating in the carbon market? Why would that be a good idea for you?
    I have not really looked into the issues. However, I think there should be more incentives for reducing than for trading. I would not want to pay someone to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions. So the first step is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Once we have reached a plateau, we may consider contributing to a carbon exchange.
    The carbon market is a system for capping emissions. A reduction in emissions is requested each year. Afterwards, if someone is not able to achieve the reduction objectives, they can exchange or purchase credits. I think that could benefit you. Although the intensity of GHG emissions has greatly diminished, it is still difficult to control the emissions. Your company continues to grow, and GHG emissions in the mines are increasing in spite of of everything. Therefore, I think it is important to make all the necessary efforts, as you mentioned, to combat this GHG scourge.
    I would like to say something to Ms. Strom.
    In the analysis before us, we see that you have concluded an agreement with the Pembina Institute. I saw that the institute produced a report in 2010, and the report talked about some problems related to water retention ponds, for instance. I suppose it is based on—



    Come to your question. You're running out of time.


    I suppose you concluded the agreement with the institute in order to improve that situation.


    We have actually been partnering with the Pembina Institute for many years, since well before 2010. I would say that our partnership has been a learning experience for both sides. They have helped us to understand the views of our stakeholders and to understand and work through solutions. We have worked with them on tailings issues, on water issues, and on many issues over the years. Although we don't always agree, we find it a very constructive relationship.
    Thank you.
    Ms. Ambler, go ahead, please, for five minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you to both of our guests today for giving us such interesting information to discuss this morning.
    I wanted to thank you, Ms. Strom, for the work that Suncor does in engaging stakeholders in the community. In particular, I wanted to highlight, if you'll allow me, some of the community initiatives undertaken in my own local area of Mississauga. You mentioned earlier that the Suncor lubricants facility is located there. Actually, that's in my riding, near the waterfront. In fact, the plant shares land with Mississauga Bradley House Museum. It's my understanding that this unique relationship has led to a partnership with the Friends of the Museums of Mississauga. Suncor has made an investment in the community with about 1,000 high-risk students who study at the museum's site with a curriculum-based program that allows them to learn about daily life in the 1800s.
    The way I see it, this kind of community engagement is important to that triple-e bottom line that's so often talked about, so I wanted to thank you for that.
    I also wanted to know if you have any knowledge of the partnership with the Riverwood Conservancy, also in Mississauga. It's a large urban park in Mississauga. Suncor partners with Riverwood on a secondary school field science program called, Exploration Naturally. It's okay if you don't know about it, but if you do, I was hoping you could tell us a bit about it.
    Unfortunately, I do not have the details of that specific program. I'm aware that we have supported them, but unfortunately I can't give you the details.
     Don't worry. I'm sure I could look it up. I do like the focus on youth and not only high-risk youth but also on science and getting young people involved in the science of the environment. I appreciate that and thank you for it.
    I'm wondering also who your corporate partners are, and do you regularly meet with them and/or the community partners with regard to environmental sustainability? If so, what are the products or results of these meetings, these partnerships?


    I'm going to give you an example of two specific engagements that we've had that involve many of our community partners.
    In the fall of 2013, we invited many of our community partners together to come to Calgary. Actually, we invited them during the Calgary flood and we had to adjust our timing a bit. In any event, we had this gathering of community partners and academics. It included environmentalists and first nations organizations, with many of our partners brought together to focus on several areas. One was our energy future, which obviously involves environmental issues, but also aboriginal youth and building leadership capacity.
    Together, what we found is that by bringing these folks together they made connections. They were able to work together with new partnerships, so we were facilitating this new network. Then we went away and worked in new groups and new networks to solve these problems together.
    In 2014, we came together again and were a bit more focused, but we also invited aboriginal youth to come to express directly to us some of their concerns. One of the wonderful epiphanies that we had at that session was this wonderful young aboriginal woman who spoke to us and said, “You come to us and say, 'How can we help you?'; you should also be coming to us and saying, 'What can we do for you?'” It was about that reciprocal arrangement and how we can work together. We continue to work with the folks in those networks and it's been very powerful.
    Thank you.
    Thank you, Ms. Ambler.
    Now we'll go to Ms. Leslie, please, for five minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you, to both of our witnesses, for being here today.
    Ms. Strom, I'd like to start with you and to talk to you about the use of a shadow carbon price. I know that Suncor is familiar with this. Different companies in the Canadian energy sector are using a shadow carbon price, and some companies use it to drive their performance or to create opportunities like technological innovation or increasing their market access. Other companies, I know, use it to just straight-up evaluate GHGs coming from particular projects. But it seems to me that the use of this shadow carbon price in the Canadian energy market lays a bit of the groundwork for the fact that companies are already thinking about a price on carbon, that a price on carbon wouldn't actually be that disruptive.
     I know that Suncor is familiar with the shadow carbon price and uses it. I'd love to hear from you a bit about that, but I guess my question for you is this. If a company like yours is already engaged in a shadow carbon price, wouldn't there be a benefit in levelling the playing field and ensuring that all companies have certainty and build in that same price?
    We do use a shadow carbon price to evaluate risk over the long term, so as we look at our plans for growth and new projects and want to ensure that we're evaluating all of the risks. We stress test them by using a shadow carbon price. In our public disclosure, you will see that we use about $60 or $65 as a shadow price.
    However, that doesn't mean that we're proponents of a $60 price. It's about stress testing and risk testing our projects.
    We do believe that certainty is a very important component, as you point out. That level playing field is certainly the best-case scenario, in which we're addressing global frameworks and global prices so that we have that certainty. Doing that for North America would also be a natural step to pursue.


    Thanks very much. My second question is for Madame Grondin.
    It seems to me, listening to your testimony and doing a little bit of research before coming here today, that AEM is really making an effort to be responsible in its operations when it comes to the environment.
    Back to this idea of levelling the playing field, do you agree that a sound and consistent and well-funded regulatory structure would help keep out some bad actors? The mining sector has a bit of a cowboy reputation, rightly or wrongly. I certainly wouldn't include your company in that reputation.
    We need some sort of consistent policy across the board. In that vein, would you support a national fund to ensure site remediation and cleanup that all operations would pay into? Again, it's this idea of levelling the playing field.
    In terms of regulations, you might be surprised to learn that most of the workload, I would say 90%, of CEAA, the federal environmental assessment agency, is for mining projects. We're subject to a lot of scrutiny.
    We've just received our project certificate for one of our projects in Nunavut. This took five years of study and probably $15 million in consultant work and baseline studies. Really, where the tire hits the road, so to speak, is when you go in front of the public for the public hearings.
    Nowadays, I really believe that if you're subjected to an environmental assessment and you're not gaining social acceptability, whether your project makes money or not, it will not go through. That is my belief. I really think that's where the effort—
    Thank you.
     Mr. Toet, go ahead, please.
    Ms. Strom, I want to start with you. I want to get back a little bit to the context of our study, and that is the partnering with not-for-profits and other organizations for local environmental initiatives.
    You talked about your founding membership of the Boreal Leadership Council. I was hoping you could expand a little on the work of this foundation, what it has accomplished, and what it's looking to accomplish over the coming years.
    First of all, I'll just give you a bit of background. The first nations that are involved are nations from Treaty 8, Kaska Nation, Poplar River, Dehcho Nation, Innu Nation, and several companies as well.
    There are several initiatives. I'll give a few examples that we've worked on over the years. We've had a national workshop to understand western science and traditional knowledge approaches to cariboo. These are just examples of what we've done over the last 10 years. We worked with 21 first nations to compile traditional knowledge, and this was submitted to Environment Canada to inform various plans around cariboo recovery.
    Of course, the Alberta Conservation Association worked to conserve the boreal forest, which is something we've been very proud of and have worked at since 2003.
    Does that answer your question?
    Yes, that's good.
    I also wanted to talk a little about your business incubator, and the 72 businesses that you had at a recent celebration. I'd like to know a little more about what kind of work you are doing with these, I'm assuming, entrepreneurs, and in what ways you are supporting them. Is it kind of a one-off, or are you actually sticking with them and walking through the process with them?
    Can you give us a little better idea of what's happening with your business incubator program?


    We've done a couple of business incubator programs. The one with Tsuu T'ina is the one that is active. We've also had one that we did with Fort McKay. The business incubator programs are not, I think, generally to be in place forever, so our goal is to be a bit like scaffolding so that we can come in and help to build capacity, develop the skills and knowledge, and give support around business processes so that folks with creativity, skills, passion, and a business plan can get going.
    The plan is not to be there forever, but to be like the scaffolding so that we can come in and give them that, and then move away from it.
    What kinds of things do you deliver? What is the scaffolding in your view? Are you working with them on financials? Are you working with them on complete business plans? What sorts of things are you doing to support them in this incubator?
    It is things like that. At Fort McKay, it was about a space where people could come together. It's about helping to support business plans. It's about the skills that are needed to run a business. It's really capacity-building that we're looking at, but it's also some of the practical things about just coming together in a space where you can work on your business.
    As you go through that process, are you tracking at all the success of these companies and their longevity? Do they have that foundation so when the scaffolding, as you referred to it, is removed they are able to continue on?
    It's early days, so we're still working together with the Tsuu T'ina folks and the businesses there. We're still involved in that program. However, I'm going to take that away, because I think it's a really important piece that we continue to understand whether we've been successful and to learn from that.
    The final item that I wanted to talk to you a little bit about is the Energy Futures Lab. Could you also let us know about some of the work that's going on in the Energy Futures Lab and the partnerships that are involved in that?
    Sure. The lab is just kicking off. In fact, there's an application process to become a fellow in the lab. That's what we call the people who will participate over the next two years. The applications close on June 30. Suncor is sending a representative because of our sponsorship and support of the program. There will be about 30 fellows that will walk together through this program over about 18 months. They will come together and will be spending about 10 to 12 days over that 18-month period in a lab setting where they'll be working through understanding one another's perspectives, the energy future that we need, and working through policy solutions and what those look like.
    The Natural Step has a well-defined process that it uses in this lab. We're very excited about it. The Banff Centre is offering facilities and support, as is the Pembina Institute. We're proud of that partnership with Natural Step.
    Thank you, Mr. Toet. We have two more people on the questioning list, Mr. Bevington and Mr. Woodworth.
    Ms. Grondin, I just wanted to touch back on that energy issue, because in the Northwest Territories we built our communities around mines and we built hydroelectric facilities to service those mines. Out of that, we got an electrical system that is almost 100% renewable in the southern part of our territory, and that was really good.
    When you talk about wind power, have you worked with the community of Baker Lake? That is the resource that they have in that area. Consider working with Baker Lake, with the federal government perhaps even as a partner because the federal government puts a lot of money into Nunavut, to start looking at the construction of these facilities that could be used in perpetuity as well by the community of Baker Lake.
    Actually, energy is about 25% of our costs. Even from a business point of view, it is essential that we look at it.
    At the same time, you're absolutely right that Nunavut needs energy. Nunavut is, I think, 22 communities spread out through the territory and they're all operating their electricity out of diesel generators. For sure, we need to partner with them to find better solutions and we have been discussing this with them.
    We're also part of the Hudson Bay round table with Manitoba, and we're looking at hydroelectricity, maybe imported from Manitoba, as well. We're talking to the—


     Thank you very much. I just have very limited time and I wanted to ask Ms. Strom a question as well.
    In the process that you're using now for upgrading, you're coking the materials. Is that correct?
    Yes, we use coke-fired boilers.
    The waste product from the coke-fired boilers is petro-coke. Are you using that for cogenerating electricity now in your facility?
    We do have a significant cogeneration facility. Yes, we do.
    You're using one of the dirtiest products for cogeneration. This petro-coke really has the highest CO2 emissions level of any product that you could probably burn in this world to make electricity. Is there any sense that perhaps you should look at moving back to upgrading processes where you're adding hydrogen rather than taking it away, where you're not creating a product that has these very deleterious environmental concerns?
     I'm not a technical expert, but our cogeneration facility is actually a place where we generate and contribute lower carbon emissions to the power grid than coal-fired power. As part of a total energy system, we believe that cogeneration is one mechanism we can use to lower the footprint of the power system in Alberta.
    Yes, but I was speaking specifically of the petro-coke.
    Can I just interrupt for a minute, please? Both sides of the table have certainly veered from the intent of our committee study this morning, which I think is probably unfair to our witnesses, who were specifically called to talk about issues and how they're cooperating in the non-governmental sector on environmental initiatives. I just want to put that on the table. I don't want to cause any sense of embarrassment to our witnesses for not being prepared for issues that we really didn't give them a chance to prepare for.
    Mr. Bevington, proceed.
    How much time do I have left?
    You still have a minute, and I didn't keep the clock running.
    Well, in the upgrading process, it's certainly one process where CO2 emissions are very high. What's Suncor's plan for upgrading in the future?
    Well, upgrading remains an important part of our total process.
    I would like to say that we have set environmental goals for our company over a six-year period. We have goals right now on energy intensity, to address the very questions you're talking about. We're in the process of setting new long-term goals for our company around GHG emissions and other important areas around the environment and social issues. We believe that it's very important to set performance improvement goals so that we're continually improving our performance. We see it in energy efficiency, but also in step-change places, where we can change technologies.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Woodworth, please, for five minutes.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you to the witnesses for coming today. It's really a very, very refreshing bit of evidence we've heard about the environmental initiatives your companies are taking. Without singling out either one of you too much, I just want to say to Madame Grondin that the list of the initiatives your company has undertaken over the years is very, very impressive. It's quite a contrast to some of the doom and gloom that we sometimes hear from certain quarters, just to know that corporate responsibility is alive and well in Canada, and in particular in your company.
    I have a briefing note that tells me that your company has been named as one of the best 50 corporate citizens in Canada for three years in a row by Corporate Knights, and is an annual fixture on the Jantzi Social Index listing for its relationship with indigenous people. Are my notes correct in that respect, Madame Grondin?


    Yes. Thank you for pointing that out.
     Well, it is very impressive.
    What I'd really like to do is to get to the nub of the issue—namely, how did it come to be? What is it that motivates the decision-makers in your company to engage in so many collaborative community-oriented environmental initiatives?
    I'm asking that question so that I can understand how this committee can make recommendations about motivating other companies to do the same thing. If we can understand the motivation in your company, perhaps we can share that.
    I believe it comes from the value system. If you look at our overall business, we are good business partners. You can ask the market: we are good business partners in general. We are good neighbours. We talk to our communities. We are a good employer. It is based on the value system, really.
    It's the same thing when we deal with regulators. We're not confrontational, because we think they have a job to do, we have a job to do, and somewhere we want the same thing. We want to protect the environment. My job is to protect the environment, and I believe the ministry of the environment of any jurisdiction has the same job. Somewhere we meet in a common goal.
    That's how we do things: we establish common goals. It's because of our value system that we have a very strong fabric. It might sound cheesy, but our company was founded by Paul Penna, who had a very strong value system. To this day we keep that alive. Our employees are attracted to our company because of that.
    There are a lot of positives in being responsible.
    The positives include attracting employees, and I suppose also getting some credit with customers and distributors. But it seems to me, from what you've said, that the greatest factor is in cultivating good relationships with the communities you're working in and the people in those communities. Would you agree with that?
    I think so. In mining we're in small communities. Our employees live there, so we have excellent ambassadors. We're also getting input from them about the things we should improve.
    I really think we're part of the community. We need to respect that they have concerns, and to have an open door policy. We need to respond, as well. If we agree or disagree with what they say, we need to respond. Communication and transparency are very important to us to maintain this relationship.
    Thank you.
    Ms. Strom, I wanted to ask you about something that came up in your evidence. You mentioned Indspire and a recent Government of Canada matching grant of $10 million. The only Indspire that I'm aware of is Indspire Canada, which is a corporate philanthropy organization. I don't know if we're talking about the same thing or not.
    Did I hear you correctly, first of all, with regard to Indspire? And on the $10-million matching grant from the Government of Canada, what's that about?
    Indspire is an organization whose chair is Roberta Jamieson. It focuses on education for aboriginal youth, providing scholarships and opportunities for aboriginal youth who might not otherwise have them. It's an organization we've partnered with for many years. They do amazing work with aboriginal youth.
    Does it have any particular environmental component, or is simply for educational purposes for aboriginal people?


    It's focused primarily on education for aboriginal youth, yes, exactly.
    Thank you very much.
    Thank you. Your time is up.
    We have two positions available for this particular round.
    Okay: we'll go to Mr. McKay first, and unless we have a call for the Conservative opening, we'll bring the meeting to a close.
    You certainly wouldn't want to end the meeting on questions from me; I'm sure my colleagues will be running around trying to figure out how to repair whatever questions I ask.
    No one else has indicated, at this point.
    Well, I can see that Mr. Carrie is getting anxious.
    I want to pick up on Mr. Woodworth's Corporate Knights reference. Usually Corporate Knights does a calculation based on information in the public realm in terms of stock price, market capitalization, moneys allocated to corporate social responsibility, moneys allocated to environmental initiatives, and anecdotes and interviews as well. I'm just trying to frame it, because I think Suncor as well is in the top number companies for corporate social responsibility, according to Corporate Knights.
    To Ms. Grondin in particular, can you frame this in terms of your gross revenues in Baker Lake? How much is allocated to the corporate social responsibility budget and how much is allocated to the environment budget?
     That's a very good question. I don't have the numbers at my fingertips, but you have to realize that in Nunavut we are operating on Inuit-owned land; it is their land. We have an impact benefit agreement, which comprises wildlife monitoring and education. The corporate social responsibility is part of what we have to manage there, and it's integrated.
    Nunavut is very special because the environment is extremely valued. First of all, they need the caribou still to be able to eat to this day, because food is so expensive at the grocery store.
     It's hard for me to say which one is which. We have an extensive wildlife-monitoring program out there with the hunters and trappers—
     I don't wish to interrupt you, but the time is draining.
    Given that I suspect that the information is readily available, could you convey to the committee the gross revenues that you receive on an annual basis and then disaggregate from those gross revenues the corporate social responsibility and environmental component, whether it's through the impact agreement or not, so we could have some sort of a feel for that?
    I have a similar question for Suncor. I want to follow up on my question about how this $15 a tonne gets used. First, how much of it is from Suncor's bottom line, and how does it get used both to the benefit of the environment but also to how you do your work better? Second, do you know how much your CSR/environment budget is?
    In 2014, we spent about $28 million on what I would call a “community investment budget”, both from our Suncor energy foundation and community. However, that would be a low estimate because we also spend on social programs in communities. We also spend on the industry collaborative work in Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance on environmental projects, and on socio-economic projects in the Oil Sands Community Alliance. So it's a low number, and it doesn't include our research budget either, which is $175 million, as I mentioned.
    I appreciate that in some respects it may be difficult to disaggregate the numbers at a committee hearing like this. Again, if you could undertake to forward that information to the committee because, frankly, it's nice to talk about values and the original views and visions of the company, but usually you can find out where a company's values are by looking at its balance sheet. So I'd be interested not only in the number but also the percentage stated in terms of annual revenues.


    Okay, thank you. We'll provide that.
    Again, I want to thank our witnesses for being with us this morning, especially our witness from Calgary who is a few hours earlier than we are here. I appreciate your getting up early to participate in this testimony.
    With that, unless there are further comments, we will allow our witnesses to leave. Thank you very much for your time.
    Mr. Chair, on the remote possibility that this might be our last meeting, I'd like to wish colleagues all the best. I think it would also be appropriate that you, on behalf of the committee, thank our very able clerks and analysts for their work over the past months and years in putting up with us, and me in particular.
    Voices: Oh, oh!
    Thank you.
    I do want to extend my thanks to our analysts and our clerk, as well as to our other support personnel, especially with the volume of videos that we've requested. It's always been very well done. Thank you. And to those who keep our water glasses full and our notes passed around, thank you to all of you.
     Yes, we wish you a great summer. I was going to say that I hope to see you all back in the fall, but I'll see you again.
    The meeting is adjourned.
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