TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 6, 2008) - Avalon Ventures Ltd. (TSX:AVL) (the "Company" or "Avalon") is pleased to announce that its Board of Directors has approved the implementation of a formal policy in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by adopting the Principles and Guidelines for Responsible Exploration being developed by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) as policy of the Company. In addition, the Company follows the Guidelines established by PDAC for environmental best practice under its E3 program ("Environmental Excellence in Exploration") on all of its active exploration projects. Commented President, Don Bubar, "We believe that good social and environmental practice is simply good business and consistent with our goal to become a producer of the rare metals and minerals, that now have a vital role in enabling clean technology and energy efficiency for today's sustainability-focused society."
The PDAC Principles and Guidelines are being developed as part of a broad initiative to assist its members in the mineral exploration sector to improve their CSR performance in response to growing pressures from communities and governments around the world. The draft detailed Guidelines are summarized below and the complete description can be accessed on the PDAC website at http://www.pdac.ca/pdac/advocacy/csr/.pdf. Recommendations for specific performance measures and reporting practice will be finalized over the next six months. In the meantime, Avalon is committed to:
- Open, honest and regular dialogue with local communities - Minimizing impacts on the land and avoiding harm - Sustainability...beginning at the earliest stages of exploration and extending through mine closure - The environment and workplace health and safety - Hiring local people and promoting training programs - Partnerships to provide lasting benefits
Avalon recognizes that in order to achieve a high level of performance with respect to CSR, it is necessary to have oversight of its performance by outside experts. To this end, the Company has formed an Advisory Committee to the Board of Directors on matters relating to CSR such as community relations, environmental practice and health and safety in its projects. The Advisory Committee has three members with relevant experience in these areas and is chaired by Dr. William Mercer, Avalon's VP Exploration. Through PDAC, Dr. Mercer is a well-known advocate for best practice in the mineral exploration industry, where he sits on the PDAC's CSR and E3 committees and is the Chair of the Health and Safety committee. Avalon's Advisory Committee members are:
Chief Glenn Nolan of the Missanabie Cree First Nation in Northern Ontario, who in addition to his duties as a community leader, serves as Second Vice President of PDAC and co-chairs its Aboriginal Affairs committee. Chief Nolan is also the president of Learning Together, a not-for-profit organization committed to educating northern aboriginal communities on the economic opportunities presented by the mineral industry.
Mr. Jean Cinq-Mars is a wildlife biologist with a Masters degree in Public Administration and past experience with the Canadian Wildlife Service and Wildlife Habitat Canada. He also served as Head of the Pollution Prevention and Control Division of OECD and Director (Pollution Control) at Environment Canada.
Mr. Denis Kemp is a Minerals Engineer with over 40 years experience in the mining and metallurgical industry, including service as Director, Environmental Development; for Falconbridge Ltd. where he was responsible for for development and implementation of Sustainable Development policies consistent with Falconbridge's Code of Ethics.
Avalon is now in the process of implementing the PDAC's Principles and Guidelines for Responsible Exploration. The first step was the formation of the Advisory Committee and orientation of the Committee on the Company's current practice. The second step, now in progress, is to compare corporate performance in each area with the aspirations of the Guidelines and to detail areas where corporate CSR performance can be improved. The third step will be to introduce changes in corporate practice to conform to the Guidelines. In the future, Avalon will report regularly on its progress against these principles.
CSR Practice on the Thor Lake Project
The Company's top priority project is its Thor Lake rare metals project located in the Akaitcho territory, near Yellowknife, NWT, where a $6.0 million work program is underway for 2008 on the Lake Zone rare earth element deposit. Avalon began applying CSR principles immediately after acquiring the project in 2005. Under the leadership of Dr. Mercer, the Company has successfully engaged with the four local First Nations communities holding community meetings on nine occasions and hosting six site visits by community members over the past 12 months.
The Company has employed 14 individuals from these communities on the site at different times over the past two years and is promoting the development of two training programs for community members in co-operation with the NWT Mine Training Society, in the areas of First Aid and surface diamond drilling. Two local community based firms were contracted to carry out environmental work on the site, involving clean-up and disposal of debris, old fuel and other waste materials left behind by previous operators.
Further, the Company has successfully implemented good environmental practice following E3 on the ground including:
- Careful containment of fuels and lubricants with mini-berms and spill kits - Minimizing impacts of tractor use on the land and to vegetation by corduroy on access trails - Collection and disposal of all garbage and kitchen waste through incineration to avoid attracting wildlife - Clean drill sites including on-land disposal of drill cuttings during winter drilling on Thor Lake
Finally, the Company reports that amongst its employees on site, it has 3,000 person-days with just one lost-time accident, while its contractors had 1300 person-days with no lost time accidents. About Avalon Ventures Ltd.
Avalon Ventures Ltd. (TSX:AVL) is a Canadian junior mineral exploration and development company, with a primary focus on rare metals and minerals with high technology applications or offering environmental benefits. Avalon currently holds a portfolio of five such projects, including three that are at, or close to, the feasibility stage. Shares Outstanding: 64,649,748. Cash resources: approximately 9.0 million.
To find out more about Avalon Ventures Ltd. (TSX:AVL), please visit our website at www.avalonventures.com. This news release is available on the Company's official on-line investor relations site for investor commentary, feedback and questions. Investors are invited to visit the "Avalon Ventures" IR Hub at http://www.agoracom.com/ir/avalon. In addition, investors are invited to e-mail their questions and correspondence to AVL@agoracom.com or phone Don Bubar, P.Geo. President, at 416-364-4938. Mr. Bubar and Dr. Mercer are the Qualified Persons responsible for the technical content of this news release.
This news release contains forward-looking information. This forward-looking information includes, or may be based upon, estimates, forecasts, and statements as to management's expectations with respect to, among other things, the size and quality of the Company's mineral resources, progress in development of mineral properties, demand and market outlook for metals and future metal prices. Forward-looking information is based on the opinions and estimates of management at the date the information is given, and is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. These factors include the inherent risks involved in the exploration and development of mineral properties, uncertainties with respect to the receipt or timing of required permits and regulatory approvals, the uncertainties involved in interpreting drilling results and other geological data, fluctuating metal prices, the possibility of project cost overruns or unanticipated costs and expenses, uncertainties relating to the availability and costs of financing needed in the future and other factors. The forward-looking information contained herein is given as of the date hereof and the Company assumes no responsibility to update or revise such information to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.
APPENDIX: PDAC DRAFT PRINCIPLES FOR RESPONSIBLE EXPLORATION (Being Adopted by Avalon)
1. Commit to ethical business practices
Objective: Establish and maintain ethical business practices and sound management systems that include sustainable development as a factor in business decision making.
2. Respect human rights
Objective: Actively respect human rights through the implementation of policies and procedures based on the principles of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and other relevant instruments in all dealings with individuals, communities, employees and all others affected by exploration activities.
3. Commit to project due diligence and risk assessment
Objective: Conduct appropriate project due-diligence, risk assessment and preparation of plans and strategies to address cultural, heritage, social, environmental, human rights, legal and policy issues and community expectations, based on sound information before going onto the ground.
4. Engage host communities and other affected and interested parties
Objective: Interact with host communities, communities affected by exploration activities, and other interested parties on the basis of respect, inclusion and participation, and provide timely, effective and transparent arrangements for communication, consultation, participation and reporting.
5. Contribute to community development and well being
Objective: Contribute to the social and economic development and institutional capacity building of the communities that are influenced by and related to exploration activities, and as appropriate to other parties, while respecting the communities' own vision of development.
6. Protect the environment
Objective: Conduct exploration activities in ways that create minimal impact on the environment (including people) by implementing good practices based on clear and established policies, strategies and plans, and by continuous learning and improvement.
7. Safeguard the health and safety of workers and the local population
Objective: Establish and implement policies and good practice for health and safety performance in all exploration activities and seek continual improvement.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Avalon Ventures Ltd.
Don Bubar, P.Geo.
(416) 364-5162 (FAX)