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 measures.

Our Approach

Our Approach to the Environment

Our partners—including our employees, host governments and communities, shareholders, civil society and others—expect that we will manage and minimize any 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 9 Barrick-operated mine sites are ISO 14001 certified.

To this end, we have put in place an Environmental Policy that outlines our commitment to environmental stewardship, pollution prevention, 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 leading environmental standards and guidelines, and regular internal and third-party assurance reviews.

Environmental Incidents
Environmental incidents at our operations tend to involve small spills of oils, fuel and chemical or process solutions. Rapid spill response includes clean-up and recovery, rehabilitation of the impacted areas, and investigation and action to prevent subsequent incidents. Barrick has also experienced three separate processing solution leaks at the leach pad at Veladero, with incidents taking place in September 2015, September 2016 and, most recently, in March 2017. For further information on these incidents, see here. In 2016, Barrick paid a $10 million fine in connection with a 2015 incident at Veladero.


Water Management

Water is a shared, vital, and often scarce resource. As mining is a water-intensive industry, our activities, if not properly managed, have the potential to negatively impact the quality and availability of water for other users.

At Barrick, we strive to use only what we need and to reduce our impact on other water users in the countries and communities where we operate. This is not only the responsible and ethical thing to do, it makes good business sense. If we do not live up to our commitment to manage water responsibly, we know that it weakens our partnerships with governments and communities and jeopardizes. That is why we must maintain strong water management capabilities and risk-management practices everywhere we operate.

Approximately 78% of the water Barrick used was recycled in 2016.

Our water use, through all stages of the mining life cycle, is guided by Barrick’s Water Management Framework. The Framework is designed to facilitate site-based water stewardship that brings value to the Company while protecting our people, our partners, and the environment.

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Energy Use & Climate Change

Energy Use & Climate Change

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 are at the core of our 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.

Approximately 36% of our electrical power was sourced from renewables in 2016.

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.

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Tailings & Waste

Tailings & Waste Management

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 ore, 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, reviewed and monitored by internal and external experts.

We conduct daily routine inspections of the six tailings storage 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.  The Standard applies to all Barrick-managed TSFs, whether in design, construction, operation, or closure.

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 assurance audits of TSFs are conducted every one to three years.

Following the Samarco TSF failure in Brazil in November 2015, the International Council on Mining & Metals launched a review of the TSF standards, critical controls, and emergency preparedness of its 23 members. After the Mt. Polley TSF failure in August 2014, 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.

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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.

To put this into practice, Barrick has in place a Biodiversity Standard, which establishes minimum standards for the management of biodiversity. Though applicable to all projects, the Standard focuses 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.

In 2016, 207 hectares of disturbed land were reclaimed.

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Air Emissions

Air Emissions

Barrick’s mining and processing activities have the potential to emit a number of emissions into the air, including particulate matter (dust), sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and mercury.

As these may have an impact on people and the environment, we work to control and reduce emissions through facility design and the use of emission controls, including dust suppressant, dust collection systems, and scrubbers.

We design facilities and conduct our operations in ways that control and reduce emissions. All Barrick operations manage their air emissions in accordance with local laws, regulations and permit requirements. We also believe in supporting voluntary initiatives to innovate and advance emission controls.

We also report on releases of our emissions through applicable government reporting programs, such as Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory and the United States’ Toxic Release Inventory. Barrick also voluntarily reports its greenhouse gas emissions through the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

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Our sites use a wide range of materials—including explosives, processing reagents, and fuels—in their day-to-day operations. If not properly managed, these materials can pose a risk to the environment and the health of our employees and local communities.

We work 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 these management systems, we regularly assess and rank risks, including those posed by the use of hazardous materials, and then 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 sodium cyanide, explosives, electricity, other chemicals/reagents and fuels at our mining operations is monitored based on national regulations and global best practices, including the International Cyanide Management Code.

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Impact Assessments

Environmental & Social Impact Assessments

Building a new mine or significantly expanding an existing 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 lead to broader and more sustained support for our operations.

Before building a new mine or significantly expanding an existing mine, Barrick undertakes detailed impact studies and consults extensively with communities through environmental and social impact assessments. The process can take years, but it is essential for us to build a foundation for good local dialogue and communication.

Barrick completes Environmental Impact Assessments or Environmental and Social Impact Assessments prior to either developing a project or making any significant change to an existing mining operation.

Knowing and managing our impacts is vital to the success and sustainability of our operations. It helps us take steps to prevent or reduce negative impacts in the first place, while finding ways to take better advantage of opportunities, both during the mine’s operations and after it closes.

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Mine Closure

Mine Closure

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 integrate this planning into our decision making by embedding closure considerations into both our Community Relations and Environmental Management Systems.

100% of our operating sites have environmental closure plans in place.

During project development, mine 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.

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Barrick Named Carbon Disclosure Leader in Canada

Earning the highest disclosure score in the Canadian materials sector


Increasing Water Access for Local Communities

Near our Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic

Date Download Description
January 1, 2013 files/design/bodybg/environment.jpg
Responsibility > Environment

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.

World Gold Council MemberMember of ICMM

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