Canada: Bee-keeping initiative by mining giant Vale

Bees Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bees are useful for helping plants pollinate

A Canadian mining company has got into bee-keeping as part of an environmental regeneration effort.

Brazilian-owned nickel miner Vale says it has set up seven beehives housing some 350,000 bees, to help restore vegetation on the huge slag-heaps that have grown around its nickel-smelting refinery at Copper Cliff, Ontario, public broadcaster CBC reports. It's the latest stage of a process that has already seen the slag covered in a layer of soil, landscaped and planted with grass and trees. The bee-keeper is a retired employee of the company.

"With all the wildflowers, it was thought to promote pollination and help the re-vegetation process," the head of decommissioning and reclamation at Vale says. The initiative has been well received in the wider Sudbury mining area, it appears. "Bees are in trouble right now," says local bee-keeper Marnie Oystrick. "When a big company puts a little back into beekeeping, it makes people aware." Worldwide, bee numbers are seen as threatened by a mysterious effect called colony collapse disorder.

Canadian mining companies often face criticism for their environmental record. Vale is keen is to counteract this image, vowing to plant 3.3m trees around Sudbury.

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