Back to Insights & stories

The Massey Creek Watershed Biodiversity Enhancement Program

Author: Sudbury INO | Date: 10/03/2018

This model was made possible through the Environmental Working Group (EWG) created between the Wahnapitae First Nation (WFN) and Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations (Sudbury INO) in 2008.

How the program started

The EWG that was established in 2008 served as a commitment beneath the umbrella of the Participation Agreement signed between the two parties earlier that same year. This agreement formed a framework through which the WFN and Sudbury INO would work for a continuing and mutually beneficial relationship inclusive of environmental stewardship, education and training, and community development.


The EWG meets on a regular basis to discuss environmentally-related topics and to collaborate on a set of annual objectives designed to deliver value to both partners. A large focus of the EWG is to build the capacity of the WFN’s Tahgaiwinini Technical & Environmental Services Group, an environmental company established by the WFN that promotes active participation in natural resource management and strives to develop sound environmental solutions.

Improving local water quality & enhancing overall biodiversity

In 2014, the EWG officially launched the Massey Creek Watershed Biodiversity Enhancement Program to assess the performance of reclamation efforts carried out at a historic inactive mine and mill site Glencore purchased several decades ago. Another objective was to assess if the best practices implemented at Nickel Rim South Mine are effective at preventing impacts downstream of the operation. Nickel Rim South Mine has been a leader in designing and maintaining a small operating footprint with the goal of minimizing impacts to the surrounding natural environment.

Since the program’s inception, Sudbury INO has worked with members of the WFN to conduct regular water monitoring and assessments within the Massey Creek Watershed to evaluate its quality. In 2015, Sudbury INO and the WFN installed duck boxes within the Massey Creek Watershed to improve nesting habitat and promote population growth.

In 2016, the Tahgaiwinini Technical & Environmental Services Group completed an aquatic assessment of Massey Creek, which focused on the presence and population of fish species, specifically brook trout as they are a key indicator species of overall environmental performance within a cold water stream. The successful completion of this technical project highlighted the benefits of the capacity-building initiatives driven by the EWG since 2008. It was found that the population of brook trout in the lower reaches of Massey Creek has significantly increased from a catch of zero recorded in 1995, to a catch of 15-20 in 2010, to a total catch of 225 individual brook trout in 2016. And the number of species caught in the lower reaches of Massey Creek has increased from three in 1995 to 12 in 2016.

Why it’s a win-win-win

Sudbury INO and the WFN joined forces through the EWG to honour each of their commitments to environmental stewardship in their local communities.

Cheryl Recollet, Director, Sustainable Development, for the WFN says, “We have a very meaningful relationship with Glencore; it’s based on shared responsibility and collaborative management.  It has been a fostered progressive relationship that is genuine. Our relationship enhances joint environmental management and provides mutual benefits that supports long term sustainability goals.”

Glencore recognizes the unique role indigenous people play in global culture and respects their customs, interests and rights.

Chad Pearson, Superintendent, Smelter and Nickel Rim South Mine at Sudbury INO, states, “Partnering with the WFN on environmental stewardship makes strategic sense; they bring invaluable knowledge of natural resources to the table and it lives up to our understanding that long-term sustainability is driven by genuine partnerships, which are based on integrity, cooperation, transparency and mutual value creation.”

The Massey Creek Watershed Biodiversity Enhancement Program has become a model for collaborative management between indigenous communities and industry partners. Not only have the two parties achieved results within the Massey Creek Watershed that far exceed what either could have attained individually, but the partnership they’ve formed also paves the road for future relationships.