In many respects, 2015 was a transformational year for Barrick. We set out a clear vision to be the leading mining company focused on gold, and made significant organizational changes to achieve this.
My letter in Barrick’s 2015 Annual Report describes in detail these changes, and our progress.
What has remained unchanged is our belief that mining can provide stability and opportunity in an increasingly complex and dynamic world. We also remain convinced that the best way to achieve this is through partnerships—with our people, with the countries and communities where we operate, and with our shareholders.
For us, being a good partner means that the most important question we can ask is: how would we want things to go if positions were reversed? When we take this perspective, we put ourselves in the strongest position to generate value, not just for our shareholders and our own people, but also with the countries and communities where we operate—working with them to enrich and advance their societies for the benefit of all.
The paragraphs below and in the report that follows reflect our progress in working with our employees and external partners. I do not see this as being about corporate social responsibility. It is just the way we conduct ourselves and do business. Because when we get this right, we all advance—together.
Each time I visit one of our mine sites, I am reminded of the significant role that we play in our host country’s social and economic development. In March 2016, I had an opportunity to return to our Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic to see this again first hand. Since 2008, Pueblo Viejo has helped establish more than 200 new local companies, created over 2,000 well-paying jobs at the mine site, and created thousands more indirect jobs. The mine has also established innovative community partnerships, including bringing Internet-access and technology to classrooms through a partnership with local teachers and One Laptop Per Child. We have done this while also becoming the largest tax contributor in the country, paying over 45 percent of all corporate taxes collected and more than $820 million since commencing production in 2013.
This is the social and economic value of a partnership in action.
And that is just in the Dominican Republic. Across the nine countries where we operated in 2015, more than 60% of our workforce came from local communities. In addition, we paid more than $790 million in taxes and royalties, and purchased $1.1 billion in goods and services from local suppliers.
We know that our role in society cannot be just about maximizing financial benefits. Our employees and host communities expect us to manage the impacts that our operations can have on the environment, including on land and air, and especially how we use, manage and conserve water near our operations.
We did not live up to these expectations when a solution spill occurred at our Veladero mine in September 2015. Although independent monitoring continues to confirm that the incident did not pose any risks to the health of communities or the environment downstream from the mine, I know that we disappointed many of our stakeholders, especially our government and community partners in San Juan Province, Argentina. Knowing the central role that water plays in all of our lives, this year’s report shares the significant steps we have taken to ensure an incident like this does not happen again, and how we are working to regain the trust and confidence of our partners in Argentina and elsewhere. This involves community water monitoring programs, including at the Veladero mine. It also includes detailed reporting, not only on our water use, but on air emissions, about our employees, and on taxes and royalties paid to governments. These and other steps reflect our commitment to transparency, sharing information on what matters to our employees and to our community, government, and civil society partners.
In the wake of the historic climate agreement signed in Paris in December 2015, I am pleased at the progress we are making with our five-year Energy Management Program, launched in 2015. This company-wide initiative stands to contribute significant savings to our operating costs, drive innovative energy solutions, including the use of renewable energy sources, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. As a global concern, we understand that we have an important role to play in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. More information about our approach to energy and climate change is available here.
Barrick’s employees—more than 14,000 of them—are at the heart of our ability to transform gold resources into shared prosperity. They come from all over the world and all walks of life—metallurgists and accountants, geologists and sociologists, environmental scientists and lawyers, mechanics and engineers, and more.
Our partnership culture is about enabling people to approach their work with a balance of boldness and prudence, with the courage to challenge conventional wisdom and to reinvent old ways. What our people have done at the Goldstrike mine in Nevada—being the first company in the western world to successfully produce gold using calcium thiosulfate leaching rather than cyandie—is a perfect example of this. Two decades in the making, this innovation brought together the best and brightest of our environmental, energy, processing, and engineering talents. The result is a convergence of business and environmental interests: a highly unique, and more environmentally-friendly process, that will help us realize cash flow from nearly four million ounces of stockpiled ore.
We know our people want to be a part of change, a part of something bigger. Our goal is to provide them with that opportunity, always putting their safety first.
While we continued an 11-year trend of reducing our total reportable injury frequency rate, improving by 84 percent since 2005, this performance was tragically overshadowed by three fatalities in 2015. One fatality is too many, let alone three, and we pledge to redouble our efforts to live up to our safety vision of every person going home safe and healthy every day.
Today’s complex operating and social environment lends itself to coalitions of diverse individuals and sectors working together to address issues of common concern. Internally, our leaner and more decentralized operating model puts us in an even stronger position to quickly establish cross-functional and cross-geographical teams, ensuring diverse points of view to be heard. Externally, we play an active role in important multi-stakeholder groups, including the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and the UN Global Compact.
While there is work still to be done, I am encouraged that our efforts have been acknowledged externally, including being listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the eighth consecutive year and being awarded Gold Class for our sector. We also continue to participate in the annual CDP Water and Carbon Projects, which we know are an important source of information for our stakeholders. In 2015, the CDP named Barrick to the Canada Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index.
I encourage you to read our 2015 Responsibility Report, which provides a candid assessment of the progress we have made towards mining in a responsible manner, and through partnerships. When we treat others’ interests as our own, we become the trusted partner of host governments and communities, the most sought-after employer, and the natural choice for long-term investors. And in this way, we can all advance—together.
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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© 2017 Barrick Gold Corporation© 2017 Barrick Gold Corporation