Avalon Rare Metals received the 2010 Environmental & Social Responsibility Award at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention in Toronto last week for its community engagement efforts during the exploration of its Nechalacho rare earth elements deposit in Thor Lake, Northwest Territories. This included encouraging skills training and employment opportunities for aboriginal people, and offering joint business opportunities including environmental remediation work related to historical exploration activities.Avalon was the first junior exploration company to formally adopt PDAC’s e3 Plus principles and guidelines as company policy.“Avalon is honoured to accept PDAC’s Environmental & Social Responsibility Award.” Don Bubar, President & CEO said during his remarks, “Since I joined the PDAC Board in 2004, I have been actively advocating for greater participation by aboriginal peoples in our industry and greater co-operation between companies and communities. Thor Lake has provided an opportunity to practice what I have been preaching.”Ed Thompson, Chair of PDAC’s Awards Committee comments, “Every year the selection of the winner for this award becomes more difficult as the mineral industry increasingly embraces the environment and social responsibility. Our committee thought that Avalon was a classic example of outstanding commitment to this entire spectrum of environmental and community issues.”The honour is given to individuals or organisations demonstrating outstanding initiative, leadership and accomplishment in protecting and preserving the natural environment and/or in establishing good community relations during an exploration program or operation of a mine. Two companies received this year’s award: De Beers Canada and Avalon.Bubar went on to recognise the leaders of Avalon’s First Nations partners who were in attendance at the event, Chief Ted Tsetta, Yellowknives Dene First Nation, Chief Steven Nitah, Lutselk’e Dene First Nation, Chief Louis Balsillie, Deninu Kue First Nation and Chief Roy Fabien, Katlodechee First Nation, noting that, “It takes visionary community leadership to build successful partnerships”.