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Our Approach

Our Approach to Sustainability

We believe that to succeed, modern mining companies must embrace and integrate environmental, social and economic considerations in all business decisions.

Our corporate vision clearly sets out what sustainability means at Barrick and what we want to achieve, and is rooted in a belief that to operate successfully we must:

  • Deliver long term value to all our stakeholders; and
  • Manage our impacts on the wider environment.

That is why we invest in community-led development in order to create thriving local economies and apply international best practice when it comes to protecting people and the environment. We live this vision every day.

Integrating ESG in all business decisions

Downstream monitoring along the Porgera and Lagaip Rivers in Papua New Guinea. Sustainability is entrenched in Barrick’s DNA, meaning that the day-to-day ownership of sustainability risks and opportunities is in the hands of our individual sites.
Downstream monitoring along the Porgera and Lagaip Rivers in Papua New Guinea. Sustainability is entrenched in Barrick’s DNA, meaning that the day-to-day ownership of sustainability risks and opportunities is in the hands of our individual sites.
This school near the North Mara gold mine in Tanzania is supported by Barrick. Sustainability metrics such as stakeholder and community relations play a significant component in the remuneration models of all Barrick’s employees.
This school near the North Mara gold mine in Tanzania is supported by Barrick. Sustainability metrics such as stakeholder and community relations play a significant component in the remuneration models of all Barrick’s employees.
At the Lumwana copper mine in Zambia, a business empowerment program has been established by Barrick to help the women from the local communities grow vegetables as an additional source of income.
At the Lumwana copper mine in Zambia, a business empowerment program has been established by Barrick to help the women from the local communities grow vegetables as an additional source of income.

A sustainability strategy built on four pillars

We believe that to succeed, modern mining companies must embrace and integrate environmental, social and economic considerations in all business decisions and deliver these through a responsible partnership with our stakeholders. Our sustainability vision is underpinned by four key pillars: creating economic benefits; protecting health & safety; respecting human rights; and minimizing our environmental impacts.

How we deliver against these pillars is set out in our overarching Sustainable Development Policy, which commits us to support the socio-economic development of host countries and communities. We also have seven key sustainability principles to translate our sustainability ambitions into practical on-the-ground steps our workforce can take, and this guides our actions every day, at every site.

Our principles

  • We put safety first
    Everyone at our mines, from a General Manager on a safety walk around, to employees exercising their Stop Unsafe Work Authority, is part of an organization-wide goal of continuous improvement towards a zero harm workplace.
  • We empower local communities
    We invest in social and economic opportunities including education, water and healthcare, and we form locally elected CDCs to help host communities shape and deliver sustainable development on the ground.
  • We conduct our business with integrity, transparency and fairness
    Our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics applies to all staff and contractors. We have a zero tolerance approach towards bribery and corruption in all forms. We transparently report on our sustainability performance and impacts.
  • We reduce our environmental impacts
    Every site is expected to minimize energy and water use, manage waste and land safely and be a responsible steward of its natural environment.
  • We build and maintain genuine partnerships
    We constantly work to form and maintain mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships with our core stakeholders including governments, local communities, shareholders and suppliers.
  • We plan for closure at all stages
    We rehabilitate our mine sites as we go and we invest in economic and environmental projects that can be sustained beyond the life of mine.
  • We prioritize local hiring and buying
    We build the skills and capacity of host country workers and vendors, to multiply our positive impact on local, regional and national economies.

Governance of sustainability

Bottom up leadership

Barrick has a devolved sustainability governance model aimed at empowering each site to lead sustainability issues, with oversight provided at the regional, executive and ultimately at the Board level.

This means that just as each site must manage its geological, operational and technical capabilities to meet our business objectives, it must also identify and implement its own sustainability initiatives and targets to manage its performance.

Each mine has dedicated teams responsible for the management of health & safety, community and environmental aspects across the site. Site level teams are supported by specialist Regional Leads as well as the Group Sustainability Executive and Regional Chief Operating Officers (COOs). The Group Sustainability Executive reports on sustainability-related issues to the Executive Committee on a weekly basis.

We take pride in and strive for excellence in social and environmental management both at a group and a site level, and link financial incentives across the group to our sustainability performance.

Tracking our performance

We do not report data because it is popular or because others do so. We track our sustainability performance to help us make better decisions, to help de-risk projects, discover new opportunities and deliver real value for our business.

Every month, each site reports its sustainability data (including environmental incidents, energy and emissions, water use, hectares rehabilitated, safety, community spend and grievances received and resolved) to our regional sustainability leads for review and analysis before it is rolled up to regional level and reported to the Group Sustainability Executive. The monthly review process enables us to better track trends and respond to issues as they arise.

On a quarterly basis, all data is presented to and discussed at our Environment & Social Oversight Committee (E&S Committee) meetings. The regular upward cascade of data ensures that everyone from site to the region and group, understands our relative performance and progress.

Environmental & Social Oversight Committee

Our most senior management-level body dedicated to sustainability is the E&S Committee, which helps to connect site-level ownership of sustainability to management, and in turn with our Board, who have ultimate responsibility for sustainability.

The committee is chaired by our President and Chief Executive Officer, and members include:

  • Chief Operating Officers for each region;
  • The Group Sustainability Executive;
  • The General Managers for each mine;
  • Regional and site health, safety, environment and community leads;
  • In-house legal counsel; and
  • An independent third-party sustainability expert.

The E&S Committee meets on a quarterly basis to review sustainability performance and key performance indicators across our operations. It also provides a forum to discuss and learn from the sustainability successes and challenges experienced across each region in the preceding quarter. As well as feedback from an ‘on-the-ground’ review, appraisal of one Tier One asset is conducted each quarter by the third-party expert. The President and Chief Executive Officer reviews the reports of the E&S Committee with the Board’s Corporate Governance & Nominating Committee.

By bringing executive and Board level attention to key sustainability issues, we can identify concerns or opportunities at an early stage, remedy them and drive continual improvements.

Board responsibility

Our Board of Directors and its committees oversee our sustainability activities as part of their stewardship of business strategy and risk management. The Corporate Governance & Nominating Committee helps the Board to oversee the company’s environmental, health & safety, corporate social responsibility, and human rights program, policies and performance. Four Independent Board Directors: Gustavo A Cisneros (Chairman), Christopher L Coleman, Brian L Greenspun and Loreto Silva sit on the committee.

Other Board-level committees with key roles in sustainability matters include the Audit & Risk Committee which assists the Board with regulatory compliance including in areas such as anti-corruption or ethical conduct. The Compensation Committee assists the Board in evaluating sustainability performance, and in ensuring that executive compensation is appropriately linked to our sustainability performance.

Aligning with leading industry best practice

In 2019, the ICMM and the WGC introduced new frameworks – the Mining Principles and the Responsible Gold Mining Principles, respectively, to better set out what responsible mining looks like.

At Barrick, we take our duty to produce gold in a responsible manner very seriously. Barrick’s approach to conformance with these two frameworks has been to use the equivalency tables to evaluate whichever requirement is more stringent for each aspect to dovetail the two frameworks into a single framework which we call RGMP+.

To demonstrate that commitment, in 2019 we endorsed the Responsible Gold Mining Principles, as well as actively contributed to their development, particularly the work to set out equivalency between the ICMM and WGC frameworks.

In working to conform to the RGMP+, we ran a pilot program of this framework at our Hemlo and Kibali mines. We also conducted a gap assessment at the group level during 2019. During the third quarter of 2020, we rolled out self-assessments covering all 10 principles to all operational sites. These were all completed by site level specialists by December 31, 2020. The self-assessment forms and associated documentation will be reviewed by the Group Sustainability Executive in the first quarter of 2021, with any necessary corrective action plans implemented during the second quarter. The self-assessment process has been assured.

During 2021, we will continue to work towards conformance with the standards. This will include working at a corporate level and with our assurance partners to assure each operational site through desktop review and site visits on a prioritized basis.

Risk management

Identifying, managing and effectively dealing with risk is an integral part of how we protect and create sustainable value throughout our business. Our risk management process is designed to enable us to identify, evaluate, plan and manage risks, including reviewing new and emerging risks, that could have an impact on our business as well as allowing us to react in an agile way to deal with new or changing risks. Our risk management processes reflect our sustainability governance approach and seek to connect site-level ownership of sustainability with group-level oversight and Board responsibility.

Each mine has an embedded site-level risk register, which they manage and update. The site-level risk register is based on guidance from the group risk function, under the supervision of our Senior Vice President (SVP) Business Assurance, Risk and Business Integrity who reports to the Board’s Audit & Risk Committee. This guidance (including Risk Management Policies and Procedures) informs site-level risk registers and includes direction on how to consider the importance and impacts of sustainability risks such as safety, society and the environment.

On a quarterly basis, the site-level risk registers are submitted by region for review by the risk team to compile a quarterly risk report by the SVP Business Assurance, Risk and Business Integrity to the Board’s Audit & Risk Committee. Presented in these reports are the top risks for the group and each region along with a global view of strategic priorities, which includes a ‘Sustainable Profitability’ section linked to the sustainability priorities of the group as well as performance during the quarter against these priorities.

Our risk team aggregates the results of all site-risk registers annually to update the Group Risk Register, overseen by our SVP Business Assurance, Risk and Business Integrity, and the entire Executive Committee reviews this risk register. The Group Risk Register is presented to the Board’s Audit & Risk Committee annually and for each risk identified includes: the inherent risk; detailed controls and monitoring activities to mitigate the risk; and a residual risk rating after mitigating activities. Sustainability risks considered in 2020 include health & safety, environmental management (including climate change), access to energy and water, mine closure as well as rehabilitation and regulatory compliance (including anti-corruption and human rights risks).

The risk team actively monitors key controls such as energy, water and safety systems so they remain in place and are effective at all times. For example, when our Group Sustainability Executive reports safety data to the President and CEO, this is shared with the risk team to analyze and provide this analysis, along with progress attained or significant changes against previous performance, to the Audit & Risk Committee. As part of our ongoing risk management processes, we also conduct sensitivity analysis and stress tests to assess the potential impacts of, and any changes to, our key business risks. We regularly conduct a correlation analysis.

Product stewardship

Barrick’s gold is refined to market delivery standards by several refiners throughout the world. The gold is sold to various gold bullion dealers or to refiners at market prices. Certain of Barrick’s operations also produce gold concentrate, which is sold to various smelters. The purchasing customers then take responsibility for its onward distribution for use in products such as jewelry, coins and electronics.

We take a risk-based approach to product stewardship and implement due diligence procedures so that our supply chain conforms to the World Gold Council’s Conflict-Free Gold Standard. As part of this approach, we do not purchase gold from artisanal or small-scale miners. We believe it is only through sector-wide collective action that the gold mining sector can create fully responsible supply chains.

In late 2019, at the request of one of our refiners, we engaged Synergy Global Consulting, an independent third-party, to conduct an on-the-ground evidence based assessment of North Mara. The assessment was based on Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Due Diligence Guidance and London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) Responsible Gold Guidance. This assessment found no evidence of contravention of these standards, and the overall recommendation was that Barrick continues mitigating and reporting the identified risk areas, and that the refiner should continue trading with us.

Stakeholder engagement

The bedrock of our approach to sustainability governance is a commitment to listen to our stakeholders and incorporate their input into our decision-making. Our aim is to build strong and lasting relationships grounded in trust and transparency, and that is only possible through regular, open, and honest communication.

We consider a stakeholder to be any person or organization who is potentially impacted by our activities, or who can affect the success of our business. We have identified nine important stakeholder groups: host governments; local communities; employees; suppliers; shareholders; civil society organizations; joint venture partners; the media; investors; as well as the ESG raters and research community — with the ESG raters added to this list during 2020.

Engagement methods vary for each group and range from presentations, mass meetings and town halls with our President and CEO and employees at the mine site, to roadshows and one-on-one meetings with investors. Each engagement is tailored at the group, regional and site level.

Some of our stakeholder engagement in 2020 included:


In Nevada, the state legislature passed three resolutions that would vastly affect how mining is taxed in the state. These proposed amendments to the Nevada Constitution modify provisions regarding the Net Proceeds of Minerals Tax and require further approvals, including a statewide vote to become law. We have been actively engaged with the legislature and the Governor’s office to reach a solution that secures the mining industry’s ability to continue to support rural counties and the State of Nevada for the long term.

In Tanzania, we engaged with the Mining Commission, Ministry of Minerals and Ministry of Labour, Chief Valuer regarding local content, procurement, labour relations, land acquisition and corporate social responsibility at North Mara. Key outcomes of the engagements were consensus on a local content plan, support on land valuation, the social license to operate, and an approved CDC plan and budget.

In the Dominican Republic, we have engaged with the government in connection with an advanced royalty payment and donations to support the efforts involved in the Covid-19 pandemic. We have also engaged in discussions regarding the Pueblo Viejo process plant and tailings expansion project and a new agribusiness for the communities. In addition, we held discussions regarding a bill proposing amendments to the mining law. We engaged with the Ministry of Women and United Nations Development Programme on a gender certification process, and had specific discussions with the authorities regarding the construction of a regulated facility and the security of our people.


In late 2020, the Lead Director and the Chair of the Compensation Committee met with significant shareholders representing over 40% of the issued and outstanding shares of Barrick (as at December 31, 2020) to provide an update on a variety of topics, including our performance; Board risk oversight of Covid-19; Board composition and corporate governance, including Board renewal and diversity; sustainability strategy; human capital management; and executive compensation matters.


In Canada, at our Hemlo mine, the community team meets with local indigenous communities and the local towns every six weeks to discuss mine plans as well as community issues or concerns. In 2020, much of this engagement focused on Covid-19 pandemic plans, the establishment of a formal CDC, and the renegotiation of socio-economic benefits agreements.

In the Dominican Republic and Tanzania, we provided site tours and participatory environmental monitoring programs for members of the local community every quarter.

Our President and CEO, Mark Bristow, hosts dinners for the local chiefs, mayors and community leaders at each of our mines on a regular basis to provide a forum where stakeholders can discuss concerns or ask questions. Our mine General Managers also meet with local community leaders at least every quarter. Social distancing and safety protocols were observed following the outbreak of Covid-19.


We hold annual employee town halls at many of our mines, including NGM and our operations in Africa. The town halls provide an open forum for employees to directly engage with senior leadership. They are well attended and can last up to five hours. Social distancing and other safety protocols were observed following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Trade associations

We are a member of trade associations which engage with lawmakers on behalf of the entire industry. These engagements can range from discussion of mining laws through taxation to safety standards. Trade associations do not undertake specific lobbying for Barrick, but for the entire mining sector. A condition of our membership is that all lobbying activities carried out by these organizations must be compliant with all relevant regulations and any breaches must be reported to authorities as required. As can be expected, we do not always agree with all the positions taken by each association, and where that is the case, we aim to use our influence within the group to push for change. Our relationship with each trade association is managed by the relevant country manager. We are also members of the ICMM and WGC, and membership of these organizations is managed at a corporate level.

ESG raters – an emerging stakeholder group

In the first half of 2020, we held a virtual roundtable with representatives from leading ESG raters to discuss Barrick’s approach to sustainability and to showcase the group’s 2019 Sustainability Report. The roundtable was led by our Group Sustainability Executive, and our regional sustainability leads. The roundtable was followed up in the second half of 2020 by individual virtual meetings. Our plan going forward is to regularly meet with this increasingly important stakeholder group.

During 2021, we plan to further engage with the ESG raters, to provide updates and additional information on any legacy ESG issues that continue to appear on our reports despite being closed a number of years ago.

Materiality assessment

Our materiality assessment cycle is biennial. In 2019, we undertook a comprehensive assessment of our materiality issues. In 2020, our Executive Committee reviewed and revalidated the results from last year.

In 2019, we undertook a comprehensive materiality assessment. It involved the use of a software tool powered by data driven high-performance computing to provide a robust assessment of materiality issues and to help us better understand our sustainability risks and opportunities. By using a tool that analyzed millions of data points from publicly available sources, we were able to build a more thorough and evidence-based materiality matrix to enhance sustainability decision-making and reporting.

Sources utilized as part of this work included:

  • Corporate and sustainability reports covering the entire mining industry;
  • Mandatory and voluntary regulations in the countries in which we operate;
  • Information from hundreds of new sources and online reports regarding Barrick or our mines; and
  • Social media activity.

We supplemented these sources with information from our group risk and site registers, analysis of community grievances received across the group, topics raised in engagement with stakeholders, and our overall sustainability strategy. Sources were weighted according to relevance, with greater weighting given to the reports of our industry peers and the regulations of our host countries, and lesser weighting attributed to social media.

The results were then validated by a survey sent to our executives, the senior management team and our mine General Managers, who were asked to rank the issues based on impact to and of Barrick as a business and beyond.

The results of the process have been used to inform the content of this report, and are incorporated into the Sustainability Scorecard, which we use to understand our relative performance against our peers and to determine the sustainability portion of our remuneration packages.

For our 2020 assessment, we repeated the validation step with our executives and the senior management team.

The following aspects were high priority sustainability issues in 2020:

  • Community engagement;
  • Ethical business conduct;
  • Responsible tailings management,
  • Occupational health & safety;
  • Climate change;
  • Water management;
  • Biodiversity; and
  • Pandemic response and management.

How we manage our performance on these issues is reported in full in this report and its associated data tables.

Linking ESG performance to remuneration

Sustainability is a core component of our business and all employees, including our President and CEO as well as members of the Executive Committee, are held to account for achieving our company-wide sustainability target through their incentive compensation scorecards. Long term incentives for the President and CEO, members of the Executive Committee, and other senior leaders as part of the Barrick Partnership Plan are tied to key measures that reflect our licence to operate across the world. These measures include our safety performance, compliance record with respect to the environment, human rights and anti-corruption, as well as our stakeholder and community relations.

In 2020, sustainability performance accounted for 25% of these long term incentive awards (up from 15% in 2019) for senior leaders as part of the Barrick Partnership Plan. This reinforces the belief that our ability to operate successfully is acutely dependent on our ability to deliver long term value to all our stakeholders and to proactively manage our impact on the wider environment.

For the rest of the organization, sustainability performance accounts for 25% of short term incentives for leaders in our operations.

Doing business in an ethical manner

We have zero tolerance for bribery and corruption. This is codified in our Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Policy as well as our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. Protecting ourselves from – and taking a stance against — corruption, bribery and fraud is one of our sustainability principles and a foundational value.

Commitments against corruption

Our commitment to operate responsibly applies to employees at all levels and to our third parties, through the Supplier Code of Ethics. We work to achieve these commitments through our anti-corruption Business Integrity and Ethics program, which includes:

Minimizing Risk
To reduce the potential for corruption, our personnel only accept gifts from actual or potential business partners where doing so will not be seen to impair our ability to perform our duties in a fair and unbiased manner. Our high-risk transaction review process enables employees to submit details of meals, gifts, entertainment and any other support provided to, or received from business partners, suppliers, contractors or government officials. All employees are required to follow the provisions set out in our Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Policy.

We have provided a range of anti-corruption training based on employee risk. All new full time employees are trained on the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics during onboarding. Certain identified employees who may be exposed to government officials or local communities, such as community relations officers, security personnel, exploration managers, human resources, supply chain and finance staff and senior management, receive enhanced live training. Each year, for our global online training, we have a completion goal of at least 90% of the assigned full-time employees. During 2020 the global average completion rate achieved was 100%. In addition, at least 90% of Barrick’s government-exposed employees received live training. Meeting the 90% target is part of the annual executive remuneration scorecard.

We expect and actively encourage all workers to speak up and report any incidents where a possible Code of Business Conduct and Ethics violation may have occurred, including any suspicions of bribery or corruption. Anyone, including contractors and community members, at any time can anonymously report a concern via the web or by phone using our third-party run ethics hotline (available in a number of languages including English, Spanish and French). We have zero tolerance for retaliation for reports made in good faith, by anyone, regardless of their level or position. On a quarterly basis, or as required, we report on the cases that come into the ethics hotline to our Board’s Audit & Risk Committee. We also report trends and summary data to our regional management teams and our Executive Committee to encourage discussion and awareness of potential compliance risks affecting our business. We may also include recommended process improvements for discussion and implementation. In 2020, we rolled out our online Government Interactions Registry for employees to submit details of any meetings or other interactions with government officials.

Risk Assessments
Depending on its risk profile, each site is assessed on an a three-year cycle for corruption risks. This includes conducting a self-assessment under supervision of Business Integrity and Ethics staff in year one. An external assessment is completed in the second year, depending on the risk level of a jurisdiction and the responses to the self-assessment. The operation uses the third year to implement process improvements identified in the external assessment. In 2020, we did not complete any formal risk assessments. However, in 2021 external assessments are planned at Peublo Viejo in Dominican Republic and at all operating mines in Tanzania and several self assessments are being conducted at other sites across the group. All internal and external risk assessments are overseen by the SVP Business Assurance, Risk and Business Integrity who reports to the Board’s Audit & Risk Committee on all Business Integrity and Ethics matters.

Protecting the Chain
Our anti-corruption policies and procedures also apply to our vendors and are reinforced by our Supplier Code of Ethics. We undertake risk based anti-corruption due diligence as part of onboarding for all vendors and potential vendors including companies, service providers and civil society groups. All standard contracts have a mandatory clause requiring them to comply with Barrick’s anti-corruption policies and grant Barrick the ability to execute audit rights over a vendor. Barrick also provides live training to certain high-risk vendors in high-risk jurisdictions.

In 2020, we focused on our education program to equip employees, contractors and suppliers with the knowledge of the requirements for our Ethics program, including human rights training. We developed and rolled out an immersive and scenario-based ethics training program for all eligible employees to complete. For the first time since Barrick implemented such training over a decade ago, 100% of required employees completed this training.

Separately, we conducted several desktop risk assessments at our operations and used the results of these assessments to improve and update the compliance program. In 2020, we extended our global compliance program to the Tanzanian operations, which included onsite training and the roll-out of our vendor onboarding standard and due diligence requirements for all existing and new vendors.

In 2021, we will be performing third party risk assessments at our Pueblo Viejo mine and our Bulyanhulu and North Mara mines. We will also be promoting our hotline and non-retaliation messaging across our operations and rolling out an updated ethics training program, which all eligible employees and identified third parties will be required to take.
Our anti-corruption business integrity and ethics program is overseen by our SVP Business Assurance, Risk and Business Integrity who reports independently on at least a quarterly basis to the Board’s Audit & Risk Committee on all compliance matters.

We treat all breaches of the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics seriously. All reported breaches are assessed and investigations are conducted as appropriate. Breaches of this Code can result in disciplinary or corrective actions ranging from additional training, up to and including termination of employment or contract and, if appropriate, referral to the relevant authorities. By monitoring and tracking cases reported, we can identify potential trends and take action, such as additional training at a site or function level to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Political contributions

In general, we do not make financial contributions to politicians or political parties, except on a limited basis as allowed by local regulations. In 2020, our only political contributions were in the United States. Every donation complied with applicable federal, state and municipal laws. Our contributions are made either directly by the company at the state level or by our company-sponsored political action committee on the federal level.

Employee contributions to the Barrick USA Employees Political Action Committee (PAC) are voluntary and are separate from those made by the company. Total political contributions in the United States made by NGM in 2020 were $1,060,000 to various Nevada political and industry PACs; $181,250 made to members of the Nevada Legislature; and $16,000 made via the Barrick USA Employees PAC.