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Environment

Environment

We manage our impacts on the natural environment, both today and with future generations in mind.

Environmental stewardship

Environmental stewardship is a fundamental responsibility of any modern mining company and a critical part of our business strategy. Regardless of the strength and rigor of the environmental management practices in place, the reality is that mining does have an impact on the natural environment. We are nevertheless committed to managing and minimizing these impacts.

Responsibly managing our environmental impacts not only reduces risk, but it also helps to deliver a sustainable legacy for the regions. By applying the highest standards of environmental management, using natural resources and energy efficiently, recycling and reducing waste, and working to protect biodiversity, we can deliver significant cost savings to our business, reduce future liabilities, and help build strong stakeholder relationships.

Management approach

From exploration to closure, we are committed to implementing high standards of environmental management across all our sites. Doing so is codified in our Environmental Policy.

Each site’s Environmental Management System (EMS) is reviewed annually, and both the mine General Manager and Environmental Managers are responsible for the implementation and execution of the EMS. Further guidance is provided by regional and executive level leads.

Highlights in 2020

79% water recycled and reused vs target of 75%

79% of water reused and recycled, exceeding our 2020 target

0.34 LTIFR 32% improvement on 2019

Water reporting updated to align with the ICMM Water Accounting Framework

1.68 TRIFR 25% improvement on 2019

Nearly all sites certified to the ISO 140011:2015 standard Subsequent to 2020, North Mara received its inaugural ISO 14001:2015 certification in February 2021.

All sites certified to ISO 14001: 2015

Solar power integrated into the Loulo microgrid saving 27kt of CO2e annually

CDCs (Community Development Committees) established at all operational sites

Battery grid stabilizer technology introduced at Kibali saving 8kt of CO2e annually

8 independent tailings reviews conducted across 6 operational mines and 2 closure sites

Quisqueya power plant at Pueblo Viejo converted from heavy fuel oil to natural gas delivering 260kt of CO2e in annual savings

+$4.5 billion spent with host country suppliers

Concurrent rehabilitation targets set and achieved across the group, 1,298 hectares rehabilitated in 2020

Emissions reduction target updated to 30% by 2030 against a 2018 baseline

GHG emissions reduction target increased to at least 30% by 2030, with an interim reduction target of 15%

More than $30 million in Covid-19 support provided to host countries and communities

Goal of Net Zero emissions by 2050

Cleaner energy and concurrent reclamation

The TS coal fired power plant at Nevada Gold Mines is expected to be converted to run on cleaner natural gas, significantly reducing our GHG emissions.
The TS coal fired power plant at Nevada Gold Mines is expected to be converted to run on cleaner natural gas, significantly reducing our GHG emissions.
Concurrent rehabilitation of a waste rock dump at the Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic.
Concurrent rehabilitation of a waste rock dump at the Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic.

Environmental incidents

One of the simplest and most important ways we monitor and assess our environmental performance is by tracking the number of environmental incidents that occur as a result of our activities. We classify each environmental incident that occurs on a one to three scale based on its severity of impact.

To encourage our workforce to carefully consider the potential impact of any incident, our classification system has a degree of discretion and calls for common sense to be applied rather than be limited by an inflexible system. All incident classifications are reviewed by regional environmental leads and the Group Sustainability Executive in order to maintain consistency of classification. Our target is for zero Class 1 (High Significance Incidents) each year.

When an incident occurs, we are determined to learn from it and reduce the chance of recurrence. We investigate incidents to gain a clear understanding of what happened and identify the root cause. When the root cause is identified, a corrective action plan (CAP) is compiled. The CAP sets out any additional checks or controls needed.

Performance

As shown on the chart below, we had no Class 1 incidents during 2020, 2019 or 2018. We have also significantly reduced the number of Class 2 (Medium Significance) environmental incidents from 30 across the two legacy companies before the merger with Randgold, to eight in 2020.

Mercury management

Naturally occurring mercury is found in some of the ore at some of our sites in Nevada and Latin America. This mercury can be mobilized during processing.

We follow a rigorous risk-based approach to the management of hazardous chemicals and reagents, which is aligned with the ICMM position statement on Mercury Risk Management. Mercury condensation and safe storage form part of onsite safe practices.

For effective risk management, we use a range of controls during processing and disposal, including retorts, scrubbers, condensation towers and activated carbon filters which trap mercury vapor before it can be discharged to the atmosphere.

We dispose of captured mercury compounds at licenced hazardous waste facilities as required by law. We also have strict handling, packaging, and procedures in place during transportation to protect people and the environment.

Covid-19 related restrictions meant that no shipments of mercury took place from Veladero in 2020. Approximately 400 tonnes are planned for shipment and permanent safe storage in the decommissioned area of a former salt mine in Germany. In Nevada, regulations prohibit the export of elemental mercury and therefore, it is either stored on site or at an approved offsite storage facility.

Cyanide controls

As a signatory to the International Cyanide Management Code (ICMC) and member of the International Cyanide Management Institute (ICMI), we adhere to best practices for the safe transportation, storage, use and disposal of cyanide. We conduct regular internal audits against the ICMC and monitor local waterbodies and discharge for potential traces of cyanide. We formally track all incidents involving cyanide.

In 2019 following the merger with Randgold, we made a commitment that we would continue to support the ICMI, thereby committing that all of our Africa and Middle East sites which were not previously certified, would be completed by the end of 2020. This commitment was achieved with the exception of Loulo-Gounkoto, which will be completed during 2021.

All workers and contractors who handle, transport, and dispose of cyanide undergo specialized training. Onsite emergency response teams also receive specialized training and equipment to ensure any incident is speedily and safely cleaned up. We require all our cyanide suppliers and transporters to be ICMC certified.

We had no significant cyanide-related incidents in 2020.

Pueblo Viejo, Dominican Republic. Participatory monitoring takes place at a number of our operations. Community members are invited to sample water for analysis at the monitoring points.
Pueblo Viejo, Dominican Republic. Participatory monitoring takes place at a number of our operations. Community members are invited to sample water for analysis at the monitoring points.
The Las Flores drinking water plant in Argentina was opened in May 2020 to improve access to water for the communities near the Veladero gold mine.
The Las Flores drinking water plant in Argentina was opened in May 2020 to improve access to water for the communities near the Veladero gold mine.

Water management

Water is a vital and increasingly scarce global resource. Managing and using water responsibly is one of the most critical parts of our sustainability strategy.

Steady, reliable access to water is critical to the effective operation of our mines. Access to water is also a fundamental human right. We primarily use water for material processing and transport, cooling and for dust suppression. Reducing the volume of freshwater we use, and protecting water quality, decreases our environmental footprint and helps us maintain community and stakeholder support.

Management approach

Our aim is to deliver enough water for the effective operation of our mines, while at the same time protecting the quality and quantity of water available to host communities and other users in our watersheds. Our commitment to responsible water use is codified in our Environmental Policy, which compels us to:

  • Minimize our use of water;
  • Control and manage our impacts on water quality; and
  • Engage with stakeholders including local communities to maintain sustainable management of water resources for the benefit of all local users.

Given the diverse geographies in which Barrick operates, how we manage water on site to meet these commitments varies from site to site. Each mine has its own site-specific water management plan. These consider the:

  • Different water sources available;
  • Local climate conditions; and
  • Needs of local users and the needs of the mine.

This information is supplemented by a range of international frameworks and tools such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Water Risk Filter to evaluate water risks. We include each mine’s water risks in its operational risk register. These risks are then rolled up and incorporated into the Group Risk Register. Our identified water related risks include:

  • Managing excess water in regions with high rainfall;
  • Maintaining access to water in arid areas and regions prone to water scarcity; and
  • Regulatory risks related to permitting limits as well as municipal and national regulations for water use.

Redefining water stress

During the fourth quarter of 2020 and early in the first quarter of 2021, we reviewed our definition of water stress against global reporting and disclosure frameworks and tools. The review helped us to better understand which of Barrick’s mines are exposed or potentially exposed to water stress, either in terms of water scarcity or surplus water. Our water stress review considered both our operation’s potential impact to water in the catchment they fall in by using existing tools available (WWF Water Risk Filter), as well as water risks on our business at an operational level. Water risks were assessed by incorporating site level data, which is in line with the Barrick approach of our sites assuming ownership of their business. Site specific data that was incorporated included comparisons between rainfall and evaporation, withdrawals and discharge, as well as looking at the source of water supply and the impact it has on the business and the catchment. A site in a water scarce area that only uses third party supply from a wastewater facility has no impact on the catchment water stress and thus is not seen to operate under stress or water risk.

In regions identified as water scarce or vulnerable to water stress, our water management plans take particular care to account for the reduced supply of freshwater for local communities and ecosystems. We aim to use low-quality water and to recycle and reuse as much water from our processes as possible.

At our Jabal Sayid mine in Saudi Arabia for example, municipal wastewater is used in our processes and the only freshwater used is for drinking and sanitation. Taking this approach, the impact on water supply in a larger catchment area is negligible and thus the risk to the environment and the business is reduced significantly.

For mines such as Kibali in the DRC and Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic, water stress is experienced as surplus or excess water to manage because of heavy rainfall, and our approach to water management is different. At these mines, the sheer volume of water entering the mine site from rain and runoff means that we face different water management challenges. These mines must manage massive volumes of runoff by either diverting it or storing it as clean water to discharge back into the environment. Any rainwater that encounters process areas (for example runoff through the plant) must be treated to meet required discharge standards before it is returned to the environment. A site like Pueblo Viejo also has a downstream water demand to consider and not only needs to meet discharge standards in terms of quality, but also in terms of volume of water released into the downstream system to meet environmental and social demands. At these sites, it is difficult to achieve high water recycling and reuse rates given the high volumes of precipitation, and this context impacts our group rates and targets.

Improving access to water for communities in Argentina

The province of San Juan, near our Veladero mine and our Pascua-Lama project, has an alpine desert climate. The area has dry soils and experiences very little rainfall. These natural constraints led the residents of San Juan (San Juaninos) to develop an extensive network of irrigation canals to bring water from the melting ice in the Andes for use to irrigate their crops. However, the irrigation network has deteriorated over time, and in some areas, maintenance has not been conducted since the 1950s, impacting access to water and reducing crop yields for the local community.

Since 2010, Barrick has helped with the maintenance and restoration of these critical irrigation channels, providing financial support, time and equipment to help with the clearing of canals in the north of Iglesia and the nearby Jachal regions. In 2020, Barrick extended this assistance partnered with a number of organizations, including the Provincial Hydrological Department and the Municipal Hydrological Agency, to further repair and upgrade this important source of water for the local community. This included the donation of 50 geomembrane rolls to line a six-kilometre section of the Agua Negra canal.

Lining this part of the canal is anticipated to reduce water loss through seepage and increase the volume of water available through the channels by as much as 50%. In addition, Veladero is working on a comprehensive hydrological plan, which not only covers the Agua Negra canal, but also addresses new initiatives aimed at increasing the uptake of water resources and reducing losses in the system.

Alongside these efforts, Veladero is also working to improve access to water for local communities near the mine. For example, since 2018, in the district of Iglesia, we have been working to upgrade 11 water plants where infrastructure had degraded.

To date, we have upgraded and commissioned seven potable water plants. In May 2020, we opened two new drinking water plants in the towns of Las Flores and Rodeo. These facilities include new boreholes, new cistern tanks and automatic chlorinators. Together these plants will improve access to water for 8,500 local residents.

Performance

Each month, every site reports to our regional leads and the Group Sustainability Executive on their water use. These reports provide a full picture of water use across the site for the month, including:

  • Total water withdrawn – Water which is received and/or abstracted by operations and used in a task or process. We monitor this by source – surface, ground, seawater or third party, and by quality.
  • Water diverted – Water which enters site and requires management but is released into the environment without being used in a task or process.
  • Water discharged – Water which has been used in a task or process and is removed from operations and returned to the environment (surface, ground or seawater) by quality (high or low).
  • Consumption – Water which is abstracted or reused in a task and process and then lost through various mechanisms and is no longer available for use/reuse. Usually lost through evaporation or entrainment in tailings with smaller amounts lost through human consumption.
  • Total water used – Total volume of water which is used by operations in a task or process.
  • Water recycled – Water which is used in operations, treated and then used again.
  • Water reused – Water which is used in operations and used again without treatment.
  • Change in storage – The change in stored water volume at the operations, calculated as the difference between water in storage at the start of a period and at the end of period. A positive number indicates water accumulation and a negative number indicates decreased storage.

We track this data because it helps us to understand how efficiently we use water, and to identify if and how we can reduce the amount of water we withdraw. This understanding helps us to stay within our permitted limits and delivers operational efficiencies by reducing pumping costs.

We also track how much water we recycle as it helps us to understand all the water that goes in and out of our sites. Ultimately, this enables us to identify ways we can withdraw less from external sources. We also incorporate the data into our scenario planning.

Our performance

We consumed 117,398ML of water in 2020, which equates to approximately 0.0007ML per tonne of ore processed Based on ore processed from both the gold and copper portfolios. . Evaporation accounts for approximately 28% of our consumptive use, while 54% is consumed through entrainment in our TSFs.

Our total water withdrawal in 2020 was 173,431ML or an average of 0.0011ML per tonne of ore processed. Our largest sources of water withdrawal are precipitation and run-off (36%), followed by groundwater (31%). We also drew down significant volumes of water stored on our TSFs in 2020. 96% of the water we withdrew was from high quality sources.

In 2020, we discharged 108,452ML, 92% of which was to surface water such as rivers and streams. The bulk of the water we discharge is at our sites with high rainfall such as Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic, Kibali in the DRC, and the Porgera Joint Venture in Papua New Guinea. We also discharged significant volumes at North Mara and Lumwana. However, at these two sites our input and output balances as well as our impact on the water resource is low.

78% of the water we discharge is high-quality water suitable for agricultural or potable use. Of the low-quality water we discharge, the bulk was from the PJV where we, as permitted by the PNG government, use riverine tailings deposition.

Tailings storage facility at Pueblo Viejo, Dominican Republic

Information on the construction and operation of our El Llagal Tailings Storage Facility at the Pueblo Viejo gold mine is shared with members of the community during a mine tour.
Information on the construction and operation of our El Llagal Tailings Storage Facility at the Pueblo Viejo gold mine is shared with members of the community during a mine tour.

Responsible tailings management and dam safety

Gold mining and its processes – extraction, processing, and refining – create waste including tailings, waste rock, and non-processing waste.

Making sure the waste we generate is responsibly dealt with is critical to the health of local environments, local communities and our business. Reducing mine waste and increasing recycling throughout the mine life cycle drives down costs, and reflects our commitment to operating in a responsible and sustainable manner.

Tailings are one of the most significant waste streams generated by the mining process. Tailings are created as mined ore is crushed, milled and processed to separate the valuable minerals from the ore, and they typically consist of a slurry of fine mineral particles and water, which are either incorporated into materials used to backfill pits or mined-out underground stopes or pumped in a slurry form into a specially designed and engineered repository – known as a tailings dam or a Tailings Storage Facility. TSFs need to be carefully monitored and maintained to ensure the stability of the dam walls and prevent seepage of contaminants into the local environment.

Management approach

Safety is at the centre of our approach to tailings management and determines how we manage our facilities.

Our approach is set out in our Tailings and Heap Leach Management Standard and aligns with international best practice including the recently updated ICMM and Mining Association of Canada (MAC) guidelines. This Standard sets out how we manage our TSFs from location and design through to operation and closure. It also sets out the key role required for the management of each TSF, such as an Engineer of Record (EoR) and a Responsible Person. The Responsible Person manages key documentation such as the compliance plan, risk assessment and manuals, and maintains an emergency response plan that has been communicated to all affected people.

For the construction of any new TSF or heap leach pad, this Standard stipulates that the technical specifications will meet all national requirements and follow international practice including World Bank standards, Canadian Dam Association Safety guidelines and MAC’s Guide to the Management of Tailings Facilities.

Our Tailings and Heap Leach Management Standard sets out six levels of inspection and surety for the safe management and operation of TSFs and heap leach pads.

Continued progress at the North Mara TSF

When we assumed operational control of North Mara in September 2019, the Tanzanian National Environment Management Council had already shut down the TSF citing concerns regarding seepage. The TSF was also holding significantly more water than design capacity.

Given our commitments to tailings management and dam safety, improving this facility became a top priority at North Mara. Since then, we have engaged with the authorities to develop solutions to address NEMC’s concerns and reduce the amount of water stored. First steps taken immediately upon assuming operational control included:

  • Commissioning detailed groundwater studies to understand the extent and impact of any seepage;
  • Structural analysis of the tailings storage facility; and
  • Conducting a hydro-census of 15 community boreholes around the mine.

Results from these studies showed minimal impact on water quality, meeting Tanzanian water quality standards. The studies also showed that while there were some fluctuations in groundwater at the mine boreholes, water levels at community boreholes are within 10 metres of surface and accessible to communities.

To reduce the volume of water stored on the TSF over the short term, we deployed a number of evaporators in the TSF pool to speed up the evaporation of stored water. Over the longer term, we are working to use more TSF water in our processing plants and to increase treatment capacity on site.

With a planned total $65 million investment to develop water management best practices at North Mara, the final phase of an upgrade to the water treatment plant came online in December 2020, increasing treatment capacity 16-fold from 2.5ML a day to 40ML a day. Taken together, these short and long term steps have thus far reduced the volume of water on the TSF by more than 50%, with the facility now operating within engineering limits. These efforts have also helped to extend the operating life of the North Mara TSF, reducing the need for a second TSF.

Despite the considerable improvements made at the North Mara TSF, significant work remains. In 2021, we plan to construct a brine treatment plant on site. This plant is scheduled for commissioning by the third quarter and will reduce the volume of salts, but increase their concentration to allow for safe storage in the TSF.

NEMC continues to monitor the advances made, with regular mutual engagement to ensure that the TSF will be managed to the highest of standards.

North Mara’s Tailings Storage Facility before and after Barrick’s intervention.
North Mara’s Tailings Storage Facility before and after Barrick’s intervention.

A new industry standard for tailings management

During 2020, following an 18-month long development process involving the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI) and the ICMM, the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM) was launched.

The development of the GISTM was initiated following the tragic tailings dam failure at Brumadinho, Brazil. The GISTM strengthens current industry practices for dam management by integrating environmental, social and technical considerations throughout the tailings facility lifecycle, from site selection through design and construction, operational monitoring and management, to closure and post-closure. In addition, it puts accountability at the highest levels of the organization.

Barrick, through its membership in the ICMM, was a member of the Tailings Management subgroup and was actively involved in the development of the GISTM. We are now working to make sure our processes are aligned with the requirements of the GITSM. Actions under way include:

  • Updating our Tailings and Heap Leach Management Standard to align with the requirements of the GISTM;
  • Working to classify our facilities as per the GISTM Consequence Classification – by the end of the third quarter of 2020, we had completed the preliminary consequence classification for 42 of our 63 TSFs;
  • Identifying those ‘very high’ and ‘extreme’ facilities that will need to follow the GISTM by 2023;
  • Developing a Tailings Governance Framework; and
  • Updating our risk assessment and risk management procedures to facilitate the risk informed decision making.

Performance

During 2020, we began the process of updating our Tailings and Heap Leach Management Standard to align with the GISTM and continued the review of our TSFs against our internal standards and current best practice. Based on these reviews, we generated a prioritized list of actions to reduce the risks at our tailings storage facilities to the lowest possible level.

These actions range from adding buttresses at the Loulo-Gounkoto and Bulyanhulu operating sites and to the Nickel Plate, Mercur and Bicroft closure sites, to conducting additional site investigation and installing additional instrumentation at the North Mara, Loulo-Gounkoto, Tongon, Kibali, Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi, Carlin, Hemlo and Pueblo Viejo operating mines as well as the Nickel Plate, McLaughlin and Cadillac Molybdenite closure sites.

Non-processing waste

Alongside process waste, we also create a relatively small quantity of non-processing waste each year. This includes batteries, fluorescent lights, waste oils, solvents, electronic waste and laboratory assay waste.

In line with expectations set out in our Environmental Policy, we aim to minimize the amount of waste we produce, and we apply the ‘avoid, reduce, re-use, and recycle’ hierarchy to our non-mine waste.

Tracking and reporting on these waste streams helps us to compare performance across our sites and identify opportunities for improvement. Based on this benchmarking, we are bringing some of the lessons learned in the Africa and Middle East region to North America to improve recycling rates. This includes exploring opportunities to use community-based commercial enterprises that can also create economic opportunities. For example, at our Loulo-Gounkoto complex in Mali, local youth co-operatives GIE Kenieba and GIE DK have contracts to collect and recycle scrap metals. In 2020, we recycled 52,601 tonnes of waste compared to 424,128 tonnes in 2019. A significant volume of stored waste at Loulo-Gounkoto was recycled in 2019.

Partnering to promote recycling in Nevada

Recycling at NGM Elko Office.
Recycling at the NGM Elko Office.

In 2019 and early 2020, NGM partnered with the University of Nevada Reno’s Center for Economic Development, and the Northern Nevada Regional Development Authority to conduct a ‘Market and Technical Feasibility Study of Recycling Opportunities’ in northeastern Nevada.

The study indicated that market and technical feasibility conditions do not currently exist to support wide-scale recycling in the area. Regardless, NGM is committed to responsible waste management and therefore launched a recycling initiative at our offices in Elko.

NGM has partnered with Elko Sanitation to manage office wastes, such as paper and plastics, as a part of the local recycling program in Elko County. In the six months since the partnership was established, approximately two tonnes of waste from our offices has been diverted from the municipal landfill and sent for recycling instead. We are now looking to expand this initiative to our Elko warehouse in 2021.

20MW solar power plant at Loulo, Mali

The recently contructed solar power plant at the Loulo gold mine in Mali produces 20MW of power.
The recently constructed solar power plant at the Loulo gold mine in Mali produces 20MW of power.

Climate change

Mining is an energy-intensive business and continuing to improve the efficiency of our operations and reducing their energy use are key drivers to achieving our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets.

We recognize that climate change, including shifts in temperature, precipitation and more frequent severe weather events, could affect our operations in a range of possible ways.

We have witnessed impacts from climate change on some of our operations, and we are taking action rather than debating the issue. Our goals over the short and medium term seeks to not only reduce our emissions, but to also develop resilience to the physical impact of climate change to protect our assets and future proof our business.

Our climate change governance

Reflecting the importance of climate change as a business and strategic matter, governance over climate-related risks and opportunities at Barrick is provided at the Board, management and site levels.

Board

The Board’s Corporate Governance & Nominating Committee is responsible for overseeing Barrick’s policies, programs, and performance relating to the environment, including climate change. The Audit & Risk Committee assists the Board in overseeing the company’s management of enterprise risks as well as the implementation of policies and standards for monitoring and mitigating such risks. Climate change is built into our formal risk management process, outputs of which were reviewed by the Audit & Risk Committee throughout 2020. In addition, the Audit & Risk Committee reviewed the company’s approach to climate change in the context of Barrick’s public disclosure. The Compensation Committee assists the Board in ensuring that executive compensation is appropriately linked to our sustainability performance.

Management

At the management level, our Executive Committee, guided by our Group Sustainability Executive, provides strategic oversight and governance on key decisions related to Barrick’s Climate Change Strategy, including the setting of our emissions reduction targets. Sustainability issues, including climate change, are a core reporting line on weekly Executive Committee calls and are also agenda items at monthly management and quarterly E&S Committee meetings. Our Group Sustainability Executive is responsible for the development and implementation of our climate strategy, with support provided by other members of the management team as part of their day-to-day work. For example throughout 2020, our Mining Executive investigated the potential for the introduction of lower emission LNG, hybrid and electric vehicles at our operations, while our Metallurgy, Engineering and Capital Projects Executive is deeply involved with the conversion of the TS power plant at NGM from coal to natural gas, and solar projects in Mali and Nevada.

Climate change aspects are integrated into performance related pay for executives and senior management through our Sustainability Scorecard.

For 2020, performance against the Sustainability scorecard accounted for 25% of long term incentive compensation for senior leaders as part of the Barrick Partnership Plan.

Site

In line with our philosophy of decision-making being driven by the operational sites, Barrick plans to identify Climate Change Champions at each site during 2021. Climate Change Champions will be responsible for driving energy and GHG reduction programs at a site level, including sensitizing staff to the importance of energy efficiency, climate change and operational excellence, as well as providing guidance on tracking/reporting energy- and climate-related data, and helping to identify further emissions reduction opportunities.

Strategy

Throughout 2020, we reviewed and updated the Climate Change Strategy developed in 2017. The objectives of our Climate Change Strategy can be summarized as follows:

  • Identify, understand and mitigate the risks associated with climate change by building climate change resilience to limit exposure to increasing regulation, scrutiny, and physical climate risks;
  • Maintain an updated GHG emissions baseline and reduction target according to the baseline and reduction target recalculation policy;
  • Continuously improve our disclosure on climate change to provide the market with annual Climate Change Strategy disclosures that incorporate scenario analysis and are aligned with the TCFD framework;
  • Switch to cleaner energy sources and increase the proportion of renewable energy in the company’s energy mix; and
  • Bring responsibility for progress against our emissions reduction target to the individual site level and introduce climate champions at every site.

Updating our scenario analyses

During 2020, we concluded an update of our global scenario analysis of the potential impacts of climate change on our business, and we are now working to complete detailed site-by-site analyses to understand the risks that climate change poses to each of our operations. The scenarios that Barrick assessed are:

  • Stated policies scenario (2°C – 3°C increase);
  • Sustainable development scenario (well below 2°C increase); and
  • Net zero emissions by 2050 (1.5°C increase).

The first two potential future scenarios were analysed and aligned with the International Energy Agency’s World Economic Outlook (IEA WEO) for 2020 and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), the foremost authority on climate change science. The third scenario (net zero) was analysed based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Marrakesh Partnerships Climate Action Pathway for Industry and the Institutional Investor Group’s Framework for Net-Zero Investment. By developing our understanding of potential future scenarios, we are able to take informed action and become more resilient to the potential effects of climate change across this spectrum.

2°C – 3°C increase

  • Existing policies and recently announced commitments and plans, including those yet to be formally adopted, are implemented in a cautious manner.
  • Although policies are adopted to reduce the use of fossil fuels, demand is still high. That leads to higher prices than in the sustainable development scenario:
  • Crude oil increases from $71/barrel in 2025 to $85 in 2040 due to increased demand and lower carbon taxes.
  • Natural gas increases from $3.5/MBtu in 2025 to $8 in 2040.
  • Carbon prices range between $20-52/tonne (accounts for existing and announced carbon pricing schemes).

Well below 2°C increase

  • An integrated scenario specifying a pathway aiming at: ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy services by 2030 (UN Sustainable Development Goals 7); substantially reducing air pollution (UN Sustainable Development Goals 3.9); and taking effective action to combat climate change (UN Sustainable Development Goals 13).
  • CO2 pricing is established in all advanced economies and several developing economies are assumed to enact schemes to limit CO2 emissions. The global carbon price ranges between $125-140/tonne.
  • Lower energy demand means limitations on the production of various types of resources are less significant and there is less need to produce fossil fuels from resources higher up the supply cost curve.
  • Crude oil decreases from $57/barrel in 2025 to $53 in 2040 due to lower demand and higher carbon taxes.
  • Natural gas increases from $2/MBtu in 2025 to $6 in 2040 (expected to increase due to demand for natural gas as a lower carbon energy source).

1.5°C increase

  • Mining is responsible for 4-7% of global GHG emissions. The sector is early on its path to setting emission reduction and net zero goals.
  • Accelerated action is required to drive change in portfolio composition.
  • More value chain collaboration is required to address Scope 3 emissions and increase target ambitions.
  • Policymakers should set clear, ambitious reduction targets and the finance sector should adopt industry-wide use of responsible mining standards (eg the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) and the World Bank Climate Smart Initiative).
  • Technology is critical in enabling decarbonization paths, including: boosting renewable energy supply and storage; driving operational efficiency improvements; increasing electrification and encouraging recycling.
  • Ensure leadership participation in sectoral sustainable mining initiatives (eg ICMM); increased emissions disclosure; maximize collaborative supply chain investment in sustainable mining.
  • All mining companies should make public commitments to source at least 50% of electrical demand from renewable energy.
  • Expect more stringent mine closure requirements to guard against abandoned ‘assets’.

Risk management

Climate change related factors are incorporated into our formal risk assessment process. For example, when assessing site weather-related risks, we also consider availability and access to water and the impact of increased precipitation, drought, or severe storms on operations, as well as on communities near our operations. Through this process, we have identified several climate-related risks and opportunities for our business: physical impacts of climate change, such as an increase in extended duration extreme precipitation events; an increase in regulations that seek to address climate change; and increased global investment in innovation and low carbon technologies.

Pueblo Viejo’s response

Between July 30 and 31, 2020, PV experienced a significant precipitation event when tropical storm Isaias hit the island. The highest registered rainfall recorded by one of the PV automatic weather stations during the storm was 210.5mm in 24 hours, with an hourly peak of 82.5mm. This volume of water had significant impacts on PV’s existing stormwater and sediment management infrastructure. Further to this, we have also noticed significantly more rainfall being recorded at PV. This prompted a review of the site’s weather station data. Rainfall intensity-duration frequency (IDF) curves were developed and based on the findings, the minimum precipitation event design criteria was increased. PV now considers 70 to 102mm/hour at a return interval of 50 years (depending on the area), the minimum precipitation design criteria.

In response, PV is reviewing the Feasibility and Design Criteria for Sedimentation Ponds and is in the process of developing a Stormwater Improvement Plan. The Plan evaluates gaps and alternatives to reduce soil erosion at the source, better management of flood events and controlling sediment transport to downstream water bodies (eg through construction of sedimentation ponds).

Identified and realized opportunities

As part of our climate strategy and analysis, we have identified several opportunities to reduce emissions, de-risk our business and save costs. These include use of technology, renewable energy sources and use of cleaner energy. Our progress towards identifying and realizing some of these opportunities, including how they contribute to the achievement of our target, is detailed in figure 31.

Projects such as these not only benefit the environment through reduced GHG emissions, but also optimize our operations and create local employment and procurement opportunities.

A constantly evolving target

In early 2020, we set a target to achieve an emissions reduction of at least 10% by 2030 (against the 2018 baseline that combined both legacy Barrick and Randgold data, as well as data from newly acquired assets at that time), while maintaining a steady production profile. Alongside the target, we also committed to continue to work to identify new opportunities for further reductions and to regularly review and update the target to integrate and reflect new opportunities identified and realized.

Throughout 2020, we continued to work to understand our emissions profile and to identify further reduction opportunities. We also updated our emissions reduction target. Our updated target is to reduce our emissions by at least 30% by 2030 against the 2018 baseline of 7,541kt CO2e per annum, with a defined interim emissions reduction target of 15%. The interim reduction target is based on feasible projects that have been identified and are being implemented, while maintaining a steady production profile. Ultimately, our vision is net zero GHG emissions by 2050 achieved primarily through GHG reductions and certain offsets for hard to abate emissions.

Improving our Scope 3 emissions calculations

During 2020, we undertook a Scope 3 emissions estimation exercise and, although this information has not been made public, work in this regard continues. Our Scope 3 estimations are expected to be published in our 2021 Sustainability Report, alongside a significant effort towards supplier engagement to reduce Scope 3 emissions.

As Scope 3 emissions are indirect and there is no confirmed methodology, developing a Scope 3 target is fraught with challenges and can often only be done with many assumptions. In developing our Scope 3 methodology, Barrick used the GHG Protocol Scope 3 Evaluator tool developed by Quantis. Using North and South America as an example, this required categorizing 2,700 suppliers and their products/services into the fifteen Scope 3 categories as well as using 2018 data to estimate emissions. During 2021, the actions we intend on taking with regards to our Scope 3 emissions are:

  • Identify partners that can assist in more accurately quantifying our Scope 3 emissions;
  • Undertake a supply chain review to identify suppliers that already have GHG targets in place; and
  • Develop and commence execution of our Scope 3 action plan.

Our 2020 performance Certain figures may not sum due to rounding.

  • Total Scope 1 emissions were 6,043,861t CO2e.
  • Total Scope 2 emissions were 1,307,599t CO2e.
  • Total Scope 1 and 2 emissions (7,351,461t CO2e) decreased by 2.5% when compared with our total 2018 baseline emissions.
  • 82,429,903GJ energy used.
  • Total energy efficiency is 0.5GJ/t ore processed. Based on ore processed from both the gold and copper portfolios.
  • 2% renewable energy used.
  • 17,626,415GJ of electricity used.
  • 46% self generated.
  • 6% renewable electricity.
  • Electricity efficiency is 0.11 GJ/t ore processed. Based on ore processed from both the gold and copper portfolios.

The bulk of the energy we consume is from thermal generators burning diesel and heavy fuel oil. This is one of our most significant operational costs, and a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Alongside this, we track our carbon footprint in terms of our total Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) emissions. By understanding our energy mix and our carbon emissions, we can recognize the contribution and value of our clean energy initiatives, such as the conversion of the Quisqueya power plant in Dominican Republic from heavy fuel oil to natural gas, or the introduction of solar power to the Loulo microgrid, both in terms of cost savings and emissions avoided.

Our total emissions in 2020 were 7,351.5kt of CO2e, which represents a 2.5% decrease when compared with our total 2018 baseline emissions of 7,541kt of CO2e. 82% of our 2020 emissions are Scope 1 emissions, which are direct emissions such as from the burning of fuel at our power plants. Our emissions for 2020 now include full year emissions for the NGM joint venture and the assets of the former Acacia Mining plc. In July 2019, we formed Nevada Gold Mines with Newmont Corporation. In September 2019, we assumed operational control of the legacy Acacia assets.

Acquired assets refers to assets acquired by Barrick following corporate transactions in 2019. Previously we had reported data for these assets from the point we assumed operational control. However, to enable a like for like comparison, figure 37 includes the emissions from these assets for the full year. Full year data for the acquired assets was obtained from public sources, however in some instances it was extrapolated where it was not made publicly available by the legacy companies.

Sustainable management of our ranches in Nevada allows us to conserve sensitive natural habitats.
Sustainable management of our ranches in Nevada allows us to conserve sensitive natural habitats.
10 tonnes of mercury were shipped safely from our Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic to be stabilised and disposed of in Europe.
10 tonnes of mercury were shipped safely from our Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic to be stabilized and disposed of in Europe.

Biodiversity

Biodiversity underpins many of the ecosystem services on which our mines and their surrounding communities depend. If improperly managed, mining, refining and exploration activities have the potential to negatively affect biodiversity and ecosystem services. Impacts could include reductions in water quality or quantity, loss of protected species and habitat fragmentation. Such risks could affect our social licence to operate as well as our reputation.

Our aim is to play a positive role in the management of the biodiversity in the areas in which we operate.

Management approach

We work to proactively manage our impact on biodiversity and strive to protect the ecosystems in which we operate. Wherever possible we aim to achieve a net neutral biodiversity impact, particularly for ecologically sensitive environments. Our approach is informed by international best practice, such as the guidelines set by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and ICMM, including their Mining and Protected Areas position statement.

To help us fulfil these commitments, we set a target for all our operational sites to develop and implement a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) by the end of 2021. Currently, BAPs are in place at 11 of our 12 operational mines, and we are on track to meet our target. During 2020, BAPs were developed for Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi and NGM.

BAPs detail the flora, fauna and habitats on and around the site and outline the strategy we will follow to restore the site ecosystem to its original state. They identify areas around the mine that could benefit from conservation support as well as existing conservation areas that require additional support and resources. Our goal is to ultimately achieve a net neutral impact of key biodiversity features. They also specify the resources required to put the plan into action and identify key institutional and local community partnerships that will aid the implementation and review of the plan.

As part of our approach to biodiversity, we emphasize concurrent reclamation and work to keep the overall footprint of our mines to a minimum. We work to restore and rehabilitate areas of the operation during its mine life by returning topsoil as well as planting native and endemic vegetation.

This reduces the overall disturbed footprint of our mines. It also helps us to restore habitats faster and reduces our closure costs over time.

Our commitments to biodiversity management are set out in our Biodiversity Policy, which compels us to:

  • Contribute to national and regional biodiversity planning.
  • Not explore, mine, drill or otherwise operate in declared natural World Heritage sites.
  • Apply the mitigation hierarchy to manage and offset our biodiversity impacts.
  • Establish a biodiversity baseline for all greenfield projects and to always consider ecological impacts and opportunities for ecological enhancement for any new project or expansion.

Working to conserve global biodiversity

North America

Nevada is a state of contrasts, with both basin and range topography. It encompasses a very broad range of habitats and a wealth of biodiversity. Nevada Gold Mines has a range of initiatives and partnerships to help protect and support the state’s biodiversity.

Relict Dace

The Relict Dace is an endemic minnow found only in freshwater marshes, streams, springs and ponds in Eastern Nevada, where they have persisted since the Pleistocene era, including in the Johnson Springs Wetland Complex near our Long Canyon mine. The Johnson
Springs Wetland is also used by Elk and Sage-Grouse, and was an important site for Native Americans and immigrants on the California Trail.

Since the beginning of mining at Long Canyon, NGM has worked closely with a Technical Working Group made up of state and federal wildlife and land management agencies to conserve this habitat. As part of this project, NGM initiated work on a detailed conservation plan for the Johnson Springs Wetland and Relict Dace. The conservation plan allows for mining and groundwater
pumping to proceed while ensuring the wetlands and Relict Dace are protected. NGM has also supported research of the Relict
Dace with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Greater Sage-Grouse habitat restoration and preservation

Across much of the Great Nevada Basin, the Greater Sage-Grouse habitat is in decline due to effects from fire, invasive plant species, and human impacts. Since 2017, we have committed to mitigate the impacts of mining on the sagebrush ecosystem through habitat preservation and restoration programs, including the Bank Enabling Agreement (BEA) and Nevada Conservation Credit System
(CCS). We collaborate with a range of partners in this work including The Nature Conservancy, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Nevada Sagebrush Ecosystem Technical Team.

In 2020, we implemented nearly 11,000 acres of habitat rehabilitation treatments within the BEA project area, bringing the total treated area since 2017 to over 28,000 acres. We also enrolled an additional 29,000 acres for habitat preservation into the CCS for a new total of 37,000 acres in the Nevada Sage-Grouse Conservation Bank.

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and the Humboldt Ranch

In cooperation with a lessee, NGM operates the Humboldt Ranch in Northern Elko County, to sustainably produce beef and partner with wildlife management agencies to enhance local habitats. In particular, we have worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife to improve the habitat of the threatened Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.

In 2020, these agencies asked NGM to help remove non-native Rainbow Trout, which can breed and hybridize with Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, from the Willow Creek Reservoir. To achieve this, we drained the reservoir and removed the Rainbow Trout. This received high praise from both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife, and has further strengthened our partnership with these agencies.

Mule Deer conservation

Mule Deer are an important species in the Great Basin and are found near many of our mining operations and ranches. Across our operations, we look for opportunities to mitigate impacts to Mule Deer and prioritize proactive opportunities for future conservation efforts.

In 2020, we assisted the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management to implement the Toiyabe Fingers Project. The Toiyabe Fingers Project was designed to restore and enhance the crucial Mule Deer winter range habitat in the Toiyabe Mountain Range. The project is partially inside of the Cortez Plan of Operations boundary. Actions planned as part of the project include the control of invasive annual grasses, seeding of perennial vegetation, and thinning of encroaching conifer trees. The first phase of this project included the herbicide control of invasive annual grasses and NGM contributed both funding and equipment to the effort.

In addition to these on-the-ground treatments, we have recently engaged with the Nevada Department of Wildlife on their Mule Deer Enhancement Program (MDEP). This program is a grassroots approach initiated by the Nevada Wildlife Commission and looks to identify threats and opportunities to Mule Deer throughout the state. The effort will then look to prioritize habitat enhancement opportunities across the state. The MDEP is made up of Nevada Department of Wildlife biologists and representatives from local industry, sports groups, and conservation organizations. We are looking forward to expanding this partnership throughout 2021.

Latin America

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic, where our Pueblo Viejo mine is located, is a biodiversity hotspot and home to over 5,600 plant and 200 bird species. This richness of biodiversity is evident at Pueblo Viejo, with Environmental Impact Assessments conducted in 2005 and 2008 revealing that the site is home to: 502 species of flora, 12 species of mammals (7 introduced), 65 species of birds, 13 species of amphibians (11 endemic) and 13 species of reptiles (7 endemic). We are committed to protecting and preserving the biodiversity at Pueblo Viejo. This is why following the merger with Randgold, developing a BAP at Pueblo Viejo was one of our highest priorities and was finalized in 2020.
Key actions to be undertaken in 2021 include:

  • Develop an offset program for the El Llagal TSF; including purchasing additional land, conducting baseline studies and working with local NGOs and the Ministry of Environment.
  • Further research into the Hutia population on site, including developing a Wildlife Effect Monitoring Program (WEMP), a relocation protocol, redesigning our light vehicle road to minimize impact, and working with a zoologist to better understand the population.
  • Offset program for the TSF#3 expansion project, including conducting a baseline study at Aniana Vargas National Park.

Argentina – Restoring and protecting wetlands in the High Andes

In the High Andes, shallow water bodies and wetlands known as ‘Vegas’ are critical to local ecosystem services,  supporting a range of species such as the Andean cat, Vicunas and migratory and endemic birds. Since the early 2000s, the Veladero mine supported projects to build knowledge about Vegas management and to help restore and protect more than 20 hectares of these important habitats.

Africa

Mali

Sub-Saharan Africa is rich with flora and fauna, and many countries on the continent have national parks and reserves to safeguard their wildlife. As part of our commitment to biodiversity and local economic development, we entered into an agreement in July 2020 with the government of Mali to assume responsibility for the management of the Fina Reserve. The Fina Reserve covers 136,000 hectares and is an International Union for Conservation of Nature Category IV protected area. However, under-investment and mismanagement meant that the reserve has not been well looked after.

Over the next five years, we plan to invest $5 million in the Fina Reserve to establish anti-poaching programs, rehabilitate the lands and forests and reintroduce native species. Recognising that our expertise lies within mining, the Fina Reserve will be a partnership effort between Barrick, expert NGOs, and the Malian government. To this end, we have already established a Board of Governors for the park consisting of successful and influential Malian business people, Barrick representatives and representatives from Africa parks. We have also appointed NGO Bios to take responsibility for the management of the park. Our ultimate aim is to transform the Fina Reserve into an internationally recognized National Park for Mali.

DRC partnering with the Garamba National Park

Since 2014, the Kibali mine has partnered with the Garamba National Park in the DRC to promote conservation and combat poaching. Garamba is one of Africa’s oldest national parks, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to the DRC’s largest population of elephants and the critically endangered Kordofan giraffe. To date, we have provided $1.5 million for tracking collars, fuel for observation planes and made improvements to bridges, roads and other infrastructure. In 2021, our support to Garamba will fund the purchase of satellite fees for 10 GPS elephant tracking collars (and any associated veterinarian fees and flytime to allow collaring to take place), invasive species management and clearance in the Nagero and Bangala na Bodio areas of the park, primate confiscation, rescue and rehabilitation costs, and operating costs for the Nagero Hospital (which provides healthcare to 20,000 local people). Our support will also fund a risk-benefit analysis for the re-introduction of white rhinos and giant elands into the park.

Closure

How we close our mines is just as important as how we build and operate them. Mine closure, if poorly managed, can result in unproductive land, permanent damage to the natural environment, gaps in community development and cause financial liabilities for Barrick. When done well, mine closure can leave a lasting, positive and sustainable legacy.

Management approach

Our approach to mine closure reflects our ambition to share the benefits with stakeholders. Even in closure, our goal is to maximize the value for the local community. How we manage both the environmental and social aspects of closure is set out in our Closure Standard. The Standard commits us to:

Policy Commitments

  • Apply a mitigation hierarchy to manage our negative environmental impacts, so we avoid these wherever possible and minimize those which cannot be avoided.
  • Minimize our use of water and control our impacts on water quality.
  • Engage with stakeholders including local communities to support sustainable management of water resources for the benefit of all local users.
  • Use energy as efficiently as possible.

To deliver on these commitments, we establish closure plans for all our mines before construction begins. These plans outline the steps to be taken throughout the mine life to deliver an effective and environmentally sound end to operations, including rehabilitation of the surrounding area and protection of water resources. These plans are regularly updated, and a proportion of each mine’s annual budget is set aside each year and ringfenced to make sure all closure obligations are met.

Performance

At the end of 2020, the total amount of land disturbed and not yet rehabilitated at our mine sites was more than 49,600 hectares. A key focus during the year was to increase our rate of concurrent rehabilitation. All operational sites develop detailed and quantifiable concurrent rehabilitation plans each year. Throughout the year, we rehabilitated 1,298 hectares of land, with native plants grown in onsite nurseries.

Actively managing closure

Every mine will eventually close, but that should not be the end of the story. At Barrick, we believe that future generations will judge us not by our short term profitability, but by the legacy we leave behind after mining is completed. The role of a sustainable mining company is to not only create value for our stakeholders today, but to make sure we leave behind a positive legacy that will continue to serve local communities long after mining is complete.

To ensure our approach to closure is transparent, Barrick adopted a new Closure Standard in 2020. The Closure Standard mandates an iterative, agile planning approach to closure that is fully integrated into life of mine planning. For instance, both closed and operating sites in North America now engage in periodic ‘scrums’ with senior management, including the COO for North America and the Group Sustainability Executive, to set long term objectives and short term goals, and report back on progress. Furthermore, mine general managers are now required to set and achieve closure planning and concurrent reclamation KPIs.

The Closure Standard also ensures that operating sites consider the long term consequences of today’s decisions. For instance, the Closure Standard is clear that “active, long term water treatment by the company is generally not an acceptable strategy.” Instead of over-reliance on water treatment plants that will consume energy and resources, as well as produce waste long into the future, Barrick is committed to finding cost-effective solutions today to prevent negative impacts on water quality where possible and to use sustainable, low-impact mitigation technologies if necessary.

Barrick quickly put this principle into action in 2020 at sites across the portfolio. In North America, the Golden Sunlight closure site initiated permitting on a tailings reprocessing and pit backfill project that is expected to eliminate the need for long term water treatment at the site, while also producing a sulfur concentrate to be sold to Nevada Gold Mines at a lower cost than other sources. The first shipment of concentrate from Golden Sunlight is planned for year-end 2021. Other 2020 successes include a redesign of NGM’s closure plan for the legacy Rain mine, the initiation of passive treatment studies at the Nickel Plate closure site in British Columbia, the Pitch closure site in Colorado, and conceptual design work for the McLaughlin closure site in California.

Finally, many of our legacy properties still have valuable mineral resources, even though their development may not meet Barrick’s strategic filters.

In 2020, Barrick successfully found new owners for several legacy properties that, due to today’s higher gold price, may be ready for a second life in mining. The sale of the Eskay Creek mine and other properties in British Columbia, the Bullfrog mine in southern Nevada, and the Maitland claims in South Dakota together generated approximately $70 million dollars in value for Barrick which can be reinvested in our other sites. More significantly, a return to mining would create new jobs and generate new economic activity for the benefit of local communities.

Looking forward to 2021, Barrick will continue to focus on finding innovative ways to return closed mine sites to productive uses and to identify alternatives to long term active water treatment.