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Sustainability > Environment

Our Approach to the Environment

Our goal is to create positive impacts and to leave the places that we operate better than we found them.

Mining impacts the physical environment, including the land, air, water and other important resources that we share with others.  Our partners—including our people, host governments, communities, shareholders, and civil society—expect that we will manage and minimize any negative impacts our operations may have on the environment. We hold the same expectations.  This is a fundamental responsibility of any company operating in the 21st century.

Barrick is committed to minimizing and mitigating our potential impacts on the environment, and where negative consequences do occur, to implement appropriate reclamation and remediation measures. To this end, Barrick has an Environmental Policy that outlines our commitment to environmental stewardship. The Policy is supported by our Environmental Management System (EMS), which is aligned with ISO 14001, a variety of leading environmental standards and guidelines, and regular internal and third-party assurance reviews.

Independent Certification

The following gold mines have been independently certified to ISO 14001: Cortez; Golden Sunlight; Goldstrike; Hemlo; Lagunas Norte; Pierina; Pueblo Viejo; Porgera; and Veladero.

Barrick’s Lumwana copper mine and the Jabal Sayid copper mine (which is not operated by Barrick) are working towards ISO 14001 certification in 2019.

Environmental Incidents

While Barrick applies proven management practices to help prevent pollution and minimize impacts, we are not immune to environmental incidents at our mine sites.

Most of these incidents tend to involve small spills of oils, fuel, and chemical or process solutions. Rapid spill response generally includes clean-up and recovery, rehabilitation of affected areas, investigation into root causes, and identification of actions to prevent subsequent incidents.
At times, more severe incidents, classified as Reportable Environmental Incidents ? A Reportable Environmental Incident (REI) is defined as an incident that has a “high” ranking on Barrick’s REI Severity Index and usually requires immediate reporting to relevant government agency authorities. (REIs), may occur. All REIs are fully investigated by the Company and we update and change our practices and policies where needed to reflect lessons learned. By taking this approach, we have been able to drive down the number of REIs that occur on an annual basis from 52 in 2014 to eight in 2017—an 84% reduction. In 2018, our goal is to reduce the total number of REIs to four or less. The eight REIs that occurred in 2017 are described in the table below.

Reducing Environmental Incidents ? Data includes joint ventures not operated by Barrick.

We have been able to drive down the number of REIs that occur on an annual basis from 52 in 2014 to eight in 2017—an 84% reduction.

Total Reportable Environmental Incidents

2017 Reportable Environmental Incidents

Site Description Impact

Veladero (Argentina)

On the evening of March 28, the monitoring system at Veladero detected a rupture of a pipe carrying gold-bearing solution on the leach pad. All solution was contained within the operating site.  

The incident did not pose any threat to the health of our employees, communities, or the environment. No solution reached any diversion channels or watercourses. All affected soil was promptly excavated and placed on the leach pad.

Veladero (Argentina)

Approximately 3000L of fuel was spilled in the open pit after a drill machine’s fuel tank was ruptured. This incident was reported to the local authorities according to the site’s contingency and communications plan. This incident took place following the commencement of joint venture operations at the Veladero mine.

Limited environmental impact within the open pit. The area of the spill was contained to the open pit working platform and was cleaned up.  

Veladero (Argentina)

Fifteen birds were found dead in a process solution holding pond of the site’s leaching valley. This incident took place following the commencement of joint venture operations at the Veladero mine.

Impact to fauna. Remediation involved the placement of netting on top of the pond.  

Lagunas Norte (Peru)

Truck-shop floor clean-up water by-passed treatment and was discharged onto a remediated slope and channel. The water, which contained hydrocarbon residues, did not reach a water course and did not leave the operating site.

Limited impact to soil, which was remediated.  

Lagunas Norte (Peru)

A small, localized slide in a bench slope of the leach pad facility occurred on a recently installed irrigation cell. As a result, heap leach material went over the perimeter berm (approximately 40 m2).

The material impacted a service road and industrial soil was immediately remediated. All material was contained within the operating site; no solution reached any diversion channels or watercourse.

Lama (Argentina)

During a warm period of the 2016-2017 summer, flows of contact water from the Marcelo Tunnel at Lama increased to unusual levels which exceeded the existing capture system. This caused a small volume of tunnel water to temporarily by-pass the treatment plant (approximately 10% of the flow).

No impact to water quality. This was because only a small percentage of water was temporarily untreated and the Company took immediate actions to divert the water back into a contingency channel and pond system.

Pueblo Viejo (Dominican Republic)

The site experienced issues with the Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP). This resulted in a temporary period where the discharged treated water exceeded compliance thresholds, particularly with regard to suspended solids. 

No impact on the downstream water environment. This was due to the low concentrations of the partially treated water and the short duration of the discharge.

Donlin Gold (United States of America)

Less than 150L of diesel was spilled at a pump station into a nearby wetland.  The Donlin project is not operated by Barrick.

No long-term impact. The spilled diesel fuel was cleaned up.  

Environmental, Health and Safety Improvement Plans

Barrick has developed Environmental, Health and Safety Improvement Plans for each site to help build a culture of continuous improvement and leadership.

Each site plan identifies important tasks, such as audits and certifications, as well as a list of site-specific activities to be completed during the calendar year with the purpose of reducing site risks and advancing best in class leadership.  These action items are selected through a formal risk evaluation process and include items such as ISO 14001 Significant Environmental Aspects, Fatal Risk Management requirements, key learnings from serious incidents, Management Assurance Reviews, Barrick standard compliance, audits, risk assessments, and the Company’s annual Environmental Obligations Register review/Annual Obligation Certification process. 

The intent is that these goals and checkpoints will be challenging but attainable. Progress against the plans is a Key Performance Indicator for sites’ short-term incentives for compensation.

Digital environmental stewardship

In 2018, Barrick will implement a digital environmental stewardship program. Building from successful pilots related to the digitization of air and water monitoring in 2017, digital environmental stewardship seeks to automate data collection, evaluate performance in real-time and streamline reporting to increase reliability, transparency and help reduce environmental impacts.