A mine can affect the physical environment, including the land, air, water and other important resources that we share with others.
This is why Barrick is committed to minimizing and mitigating our impacts on the environment in the first place, and where they do occur, to put in place appropriate reclamation and remediation.
Our partners—including our employees, host governments and communities, shareholders, civil society and others—expect that we will manage and minimize impacts our operations may have on the environment. We have the same expectation and see it as a fundamental responsibility of any company operating in the 21st century.
8 of 10 Barrick-operated mine sites are ISO14001 certified;
we expect the remaining two sites to achieve certification in 2016.
To this end, we have put in place an Environmental Policy that outlines our commitment to pollution prevention, environmental stewardship, educating our employees and communities about our environmental commitments, and applying proven management practices. In practice, this means finding ways to reduce our water and energy use or developing new processing methods that rely on more environmentally-friendly materials. The Policy is supported by our Environmental Management System (EMS), which is aligned with ISO 14001, a variety of environmental standards and guidelines, and regular internal and third-party assurance reviews.
Water is a shared, vital and sometimes scarce resource. As mining is a water-intensive industry, we know that our activities, if not properly managed, have the potential to negatively impact the quality and availability of water for other users. Recognizing this, and that access to clean water is treated as a human rights issue in some of the jurisdictions and settings where we operate, we therefore see it as a priority to manage our water use in a responsible manner.
62% of the water we used was recycled in 2015
We share the high expectations of our government and community partners. Our water use, through all stages of the mine life cycle, is managed by Barrick’s Water Conservation Standard and benefits from guidance provided by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). The Standard emphasizes water monitoring, risk assessment and continuous improvements in water use efficiency. This focuses our efforts on finding innovative ways of using as little water as possible, while controlling impacts we may have on water quality.
50% of Barrick sites do not discharge water to the environment
Transparency is fundamental to our approach. We share monitoring data with appropriate local authorities, and the mines’ water treatment facilities are inspected by regulators and other third parties. We also conduct participatory water monitoring programs with local communities at six of our mine sites, publish company-wide water data online, and participate in the annual CDP-Water Disclosure Project.
Mining involves the removal and processing of ore—the rock containing economically recoverable amounts of desired metals. To access the ore deposits, waste rock must be removed and stored in waste rock dumps. During the milling and processing of ores, mine tailings may be produced and stored in engineered tailings storage facilities (TSFs).
If not properly managed, TSFs can fail and lead to harmful impacts on the environment and nearby communities. This is why we have established stringent internal requirements based on international best practices and why these facilities are carefully designed and monitored by internal and expert experts.
We conduct daily routine inspections of the eight
facilities at our operations
Barrick has a Tailings and Heap Leach Management Standard to help our sites comply with applicable laws and regulations and align with accepted international practice. The Standard establishes the minimum geotechnical, hydrological, hydrogeological and environmental design, construction, operation and closure criteria and procedures for Barrick’s TSFs.
We conduct daily routine inspections of TSFs at our operations, and annual dam safety inspections are conducted by the Engineer of Record. Independent third-party expert technical reviews are conducted at a minimum of every two to four years at high-risk TSFs, and independent assurance audits of TSFs are conducted every one to three years.
Following the Samarco TSF failure in Brazil in November 2015, the ICMM launched a review of the TSF standards, critical controls and emergency preparedness of its 23 members. In Canada, following the Mt. Polley TSF failure, the Mining Association of Canada undertook an extensive re-assessment of its TSF management practices (already described as ”best available practice”) and made that report public. Barrick participated in both efforts, and is motivated to improve industry practice and mitigate the risk of TSF failures in the future.
For more information on these initiatives, see the ICMM and MAC websites.
Mining is an energy-intensive business. From blasting to hauling to crushing to processing, energy is used at every stage of the mining process. Smart energy management can positively impact many aspects of our business—more efficient production, reduction in costs and greenhouse gas emissions, safer working conditions and improved shareholder returns, to name a few.
In 2015, Barrick established a five-year energy plan
with a goal of reducing energy costs by at least 10%
Conservation, energy efficiency and alternative energy sources form our core energy strategies. Barrick’s Energy Management Policy establishes requirements for the effective administration and control of all energy sources (fuel, power, explosives) used by the company. Throughout the mining process, our approach to managing energy use and climate change is informed by our Environmental Management System and associated Standards.
18.5% of our electrical power was sourced
from renewables in 2015
By managing our energy use, we are able to reduce our emissions, reduce the amount of power we draw from local energy grids and save a significant proportion of our direct mining costs.
Biodiversity forms the basis of the many ecosystem services—including the provision of fresh water and of raw materials such as food and fuel, climate regulation, soil formation, and recreational services—that keep people, and the natural environment, alive and healthy.
Our mining activities can have an impact on local biodiversity and the provision of these essential services. We see the results of biodiversity loss—pollution, water scarcity, erosion—as a clear risk to our business, both as a regulatory risk, and to our relationships with host communities. One of our fundamental responsibilities is to minimize harmful impacts on the environment, and where they may occur, to mitigate them effectively.
28 hectares of disturbed land were reclaimed in 2015
To put this into practice, Barrick updated and released its Biodiversity Standard in 2015, which establishes minimum standards for the management of biodiversity at all of our sites. The Standard is focused on ways to achieve beneficial outcomes to key biodiversity features at new projects and major expansions of existing properties.
We aspire to safeguard, manage, and eventually reclaim the land disturbed by our mining activities.
Barrick’s mining and processing activities have the potential to release a number of emissions into the air, including dust, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and mercury.
As these may have an impact on people and the environment, we work to control emissions and reduce contaminants through smart facility design and the use of a variety of controls, including dust suppression, dust collection systems, and scrubbers.
We design facilities and conduct our operations in ways that control emissions. All Barrick operations have air-control plans and activities in accord with local laws, regulations, and permit requirements. We also believe in supporting voluntary initiatives to innovate and advance emissions control, rather than waiting for regulatory requirements to drive our actions.
We also report our emissions through applicable government emissions-reporting programs, such as the National Pollutant Release Inventory in Canada, and the Toxic Release Inventory in the United States. Barrick also voluntarily reports its greenhouse gas emissions through participation in the annual Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).
Our sites use a wide range of materials—including explosives, chemicals and fuels—in their day-to-day operations. If not properly managed, these materials can pose a risk to the environment and the health and safety of our employees and local communities.
We seek to manage chemicals and materials at our operations in a safe and responsible manner. We are guided in our approach by the standards included in our Environmental Management System and Safety and Health Management System. As part of our management systems, we regularly assess and rank risks, including those posed by the use of hazardous materials, and institute controls to manage those risks.
100% of Barrick-operated mines that use cyanide are certified
to the International Cyanide Management Code.
The use of cyanide, explosives, electricity and fuels at our mining operations is monitored based on global best practices, including ten years of adherence to the International Cyanide Management Code.
Every mine has a finite operational life, and the eventual closure of a mine can contribute to significant social, economic and environmental changes, especially for nearby communities. We believe that properly closing a mine has to involve managing and addressing our partners’ social and economic concerns, as well as the environmental impacts and obligations created by Barrick.
We start planning for mine closure even before construction begins. We have developed a Mine Closure Management System (MCMS), and we integrate this planning into our decision making by embedding closure considerations into both our Community Relations and Environmental Management Systems.
Barrick’s Pierina mine is currently in closure
Golden Sunlight mine is nearing planned closure
During project development, environmental closure planning is considered and conceptual Mine Closure Plans are developed. All of our operations have environmental closure plans in place, which are reviewed and revised regularly.
100% of our operations have environmental closure plans in place
For social, economic and other impacts on the communities to be mitigated, three years prior to anticipated closure, all sites must undertake a Social Closure Impact Assessment (SCIA), a Social Closure Risk Assessment (SCRA), and complete a Social Closure Plan (SCP). SCIAs focus on identifying the potential social risks and impacts to a community from mine closure and require the development of mitigation plans to address any identified risks and impacts.
Building a new mine is an increasingly complex undertaking, due to more stringent regulations and a more inclusive and transparent process involving significantly more stakeholders. We welcome this, as it can help ensure broader and more sustained support for our operations.
Before building a new mine, Barrick undertakes detailed impact studies and consults extensively with communities through environmental and social impact assessments. The process can take years and lays the foundation for good local dialogue and communication.
All Barrick projects and operations complete Environmental Impact Assessments or Environmental and Social Impact Assessments prior to developing a project or making a significant change to an existing operation.
Knowing and managing our impacts is vital to the success and sustainability of our operations. It helps us take steps reduce any negative impacts or prevent them from occurring in the first place, while finding ways to take better advantage of opportunities, both during the mine’s operations and after it closes.
Our vision is the generation of wealth through responsible mining — wealth for our owners, our people, and the countries and communities with which we partner.
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