even those who ask about sulfur and greenhouse gas emissions. “There’s typically more than one critic in the audience,” he jokes, “and I think dialogue is very important, with every stakeholder, not just those who support the coal industry. We are advocates for developing technology that deals with every issue. We want to do it right. At Chevron we’re absolutely committed to technology research. For example, we have a group of 30 or more PhD scientists at our corporation’s research facility working exclusively on dealing with carbon dioxide emissions. “We also have a partnership with Penn State University; it’s a $17.5 million commitment in which our research scientists are engaging with theirs to develop new technologies relative to greenhouse gas emissions and more effi cient burning and use of coal. There are several other examples; these are two of our larger initiatives. We believe there are solutions, but they won’t happen overnight, and I suppose we’re at the public’s mercy by asking for time to develop new methods and technologies for a cleaner environment.” Smith is also concerned about what he calls “a real demographic issue” in the mining industry, namely, trying to recruit qualifi ed, skilled people to replace those retiring. “I think it’s across many industries in the US, but we certainly feel it in a pronounced way at Chevron Mining. Sixtyone percent of our employees will be eligible for retirement in the next ten years, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that not only are we hiring new people to become part of our family, we’re also trying to ensure that through the systematic approach to the way we do business, we capture the institutional knowledge. When you have veterans with 30 years of devoted service who have been passionate about their jobs, and they walk out that door to enjoy their retirement, their knowledge and experience leave with them. “So our Operational Excellence program is geared to capture that knowledge long before retirement day, so that our new recruits have the opportunity to be trained and ready to go, passing the torch, so to speak. Some of the more technical skills of mining are more diffi cult to fi nd, such as mining engineers, mechanical engineers, electricians, and so on. We fi nd that we have to develop in-house training programs for apprenticeship and certifi cation processes, and allow education to occur on the job at our expense. It seems to be working well so far.” May 08 www.bus-ex.com 25 on a local basis. We don’t do much spot market or international trade.” One of his chief concerns about today’s energy market in the US is the importance that coal plays on the demand side, versus the perception the public has of the coal-burning industry. “It’s probably my major concern today,” Smith says. “Coal supplies about 50 percent of electricity produced in this country. Forecasts by various government agencies predict that by 2030 the demand for electricity will grow by about 60 percent. What bothers me is the negative perception that Americans have about coal. Can any other energy source come in and fi ll that gap in demand? I think we need to address this factually and head on, to make sure that everyone understands that we will need every form of energy available in the US, because relying on just one form or another won’t do it. We’ll need a combination of coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, biofuels, wind, solar, hydrogen fuel—everything out there—to provide enough energy. Conservation is also something we’ll need more of, to make sure there is enough energy. “The two aspects of the public’s perception that continue to hurt us are the environment and safety. We at Chevron Mining are absolutely committed to walking the talk, on balancing environmental issues with the safe operation of the mines.” He refers to a company initiative called Operational Excellence, which calls for implementing systematic approaches to dealing with health, safety, reliability, effi ciency and environmental issues. This year to date there has not being a single lost-time accident in any of the mines or the coke plant. “We don’t do short-term approaches,” says Smith. “Our Operational Excellence program encourages and supports our 1,500 employees doing a job properly and consistently. I am exceptionally proud of our safety record, because it takes every individual to make it happen.” When he goes out into the community for speaking engagements to various groups and organizations about the positive aspects of coal as an energy source, Smith welcomes interaction with audience members, ChevronMiningInc.
26 May 08 www.bus-ex.com Frank Potter, president of the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, tells Martin Ashcroft how an old technology and a new community involvement initiative have combined to provide a solution to one of the largest environmental hazards in Canada Thebigcleanup