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Sustainability > Environment

Biodiversity

Biodiversity forms the basis of many ecosystem services. These include the provision of fresh water and of raw materials such as food and fuel, climate regulation, soil formation, and recreational services, which keep people, and the natural environment, alive and healthy.

We recognize that our mining activities can have an impact on local biodiversity and the provision of these essential services. We see biodiversity loss as both a regulatory risk and a risk to our relationships with host communities. One of our fundamental responsibilities is to remediate, as effectively as possible, our impacts to the environment.

Throughout the mining process, we follow the guidance provided by our internal Environmental Management System and associated Standards, along with guidance provided by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), to determine how to manage our impacts on biodiversity. We are committed to engaging with local communities, including Indigenous Peoples, regarding these impacts.

We aspire to safeguard, manage, and eventually reclaim lands, with a focus on protecting biodiversity.

To put this into practice, Barrick has in place a Biodiversity Standard, which establishes minimum standards for the management of biodiversity.

Partnerships

As part of our commitment to look for opportunities to improve conservation at our sites and the landscapes in which we operate at a global level, we continue to support, both financially and through active participation, groups such as the Cross-Sector Biodiversity Initiative, ICMM’s Biodiversity Working Group, and Proteus (the United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre). Each partnership and working group supports the continued growth of good practice among industry leaders and exposes us to the most current thoughts to consider as we work towards our improvement goals.

The Biodiversity Standard and our management approach are focused on ways to achieve beneficial outcomes for potentially impacted key biodiversity features at new projects and major expansions of existing properties. ? A new project is defined as a project which has not entered pre-feasibility as of January 1st, 2016 This includes combining the elements of the Mitigation Hierarchy of avoidance, mitigation and restoration programs with biodiversity offsets and/or other conservation actions, so landscapes in the regions benefit over time from our presence. Nonetheless, all of our mines are managed with the goal of minimizing impacts on biodiversity.

In 2017, four sites (three operating mines and one project) were considered to require biodiversity management plans due to their proximity to protected areas and the detection of threatened species. ? The criteria we used to establish the need for a biodiversity management plan was proximity to a protected area and the presence of more than ten IUCN threatened species, as determined by high-level corporate risk assessments using tools such as the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool, rather than individual site impact analyses. Many of our sites integrate biodiversity management plans into site environmental management plans. In addition, most Barrick sites, regardless of their proximity to protected areas, include some level of protection and programs to monitor terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna in their environmental management plans. ? Biodiversity management requirements changed in late 2015 after the Pascua-Lama project was suspended.

Mitigation Hierarchy
  • Avoid: Avoid impacts on certain components of biodiversity.
  • Minimize: Reduce the duration, intensity and/or extent of impacts that cannot be completely avoided.
  • Rehabilitate/restore: Rehabilitate degraded ecosystems or restore cleared ecosystems following exposure to impacts that cannot be completely avoided and or minimized.
  • Offset: Compensate for any residual significant, adverse impacts that cannot be avoided, minimized, and/or rehabilitated or restored.

Land Management

Land disturbance is a consequence of mining. Our aim is to minimize our footprint, mitigate disturbances, and once mining is finished, leave behind land that will support productive uses for future generations.

Careful planning during development and operations helps to reduce the area affected by mining activities, as well as the environmental effects of disturbance. Barrick has a Mine Closure Standard that requires that we close our properties in a manner that is timely and cost-effective and that restores an ecosystem that can support productive post-mining land use.

Reclamation

116 hectares of disturbed land were reclaimed in 2017.

 

Of the 1.2 million hectares of surface land owned, leased, or managed by Barrick, just over 25 thousand hectares (two percent) has been disturbed over the years by our operations. The rest has been left in its natural state or utilized for other activities, including agriculture and livestock grazing. Over the course of Barrick’s operations, over 6,000 hectares have been reclaimed to the agreed post-mining land use.

Land Balance - 2017

Hectares

Total land disturbed and not rehabilitated at the beginning of the year

25,003

Total amount of land newly disturbed (in reporting period)

975

Total amount of land newly rehabilitated (in reporting period)

116

Total land disturbed and not yet rehabilitated at end of year

25,863

 

Protected and Other Sensitive Areas

Barrick acknowledges the tensions that exist around access to, and competing uses of, land. We also recognize the importance of biodiversity conservation, the need for properly designated and managed systems of protected areas. As a member of the International Council on Metals and Mining (ICMM), we support the Mining and protected areas position statement and have therefore committed to neither explore nor initiate mining within World Heritage Sites, and to respect the requirements of legally designated protected areas.

Barrick has one property (Pierina) located near a World Heritage Site, one project (Alturas) located within 15km of a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve, one project (Pascua-Lama) within the multi-use area of a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve, and three operations (Hemlo, Turquoise Ridge, and Lumwana) near International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) protected areas. In addition, our Pueblo Viejo mine is located near a national park in the Dominican Republic. Finally, the Veladero mine (which is not operated by Barrick) is also located within the multi-use area of a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve.

In Peru, the 1,300-hectare Pierina mine (now in closure) is located 10 kilometers southwest of the Huascaran National Park and World Heritage Site. World Heritage Sites are properties that have outstanding universal cultural or natural value as identified by the World Heritage Committee. Members of the Committee are elected from countries that are parties to the World Heritage Convention (established by UNESCO).

The Lama side of the Pascua-Lama project—as well as the 21,000-hectare Veladero mine—are located within the multi-use area of the San Guillermo Man and Biosphere Reserve (San Guillermo MAB) in Argentina. The San Guillermo MAB, comprising 990,000 hectares, is a thriving ecological micro-region, home to diverse migrating species such as condors, vicuñas, guanacos, pumas, and flamingos. MABs are places where UNESCO seeks to reconcile conservation and cultural diversity with economic and social development through partnerships between people and nature. The San Guillermo MAB has a nucleus, buffer, and multi-use area. Mining is one of the many human uses permitted in the multi-use area of the San Guillermo MAB. Barrick supports the creation of a management plan for the San Guillermo MAB, which is an important requirement to maintaining biosphere reserve status according to the UNESCO principles.

Supporting Protected Areas

Barrick has set up a fund to support monitoring and controls within the San Guillermo Man and Biosphere Reserve. The money is intended for a number of projects and has so far been used to purchase vehicles to support biological monitoring and water management programs, as well as for the construction of two mountain shelters in the biosphere reserve area.

 

Our sites near IUCN protected areas include our operation in Zambia, which is located within 10 kilometers of a Forest Reserve (unclassified IUCN protected area), and PVDC in the Dominican Republic, where one of our pipelines crossed through a protected area declared in 2009 by the Dominican government. The tailings storage facility of the Hemlo mine in Ontario, Canada, is within 15 kilometers of White Lake Provincial Park (IUCN Cat II), and Turquoise Ridge is close to the Osgood Mountain milkvetch plant habitat (IUCN Cat V), but no impacts are expected from either operation. In North America, some of our sites are identified as sensitive by local entities, such as sage grouse and Lahontan cutthroat trout habitats.

We also have operations located within or near areas considered of High Biodiversity Value ? Determined by high-level corporate risk assessments using tools such as the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (UNEP-WCMC), rather than individual site impact analyses. (see the table below). Our Environmental Management System (EMS) directs our people to heed their responsibility to protect these sensitive habitats.

Sites Near Protected Areas or Areas of High Biodiversity Value (2017)

SITE PROTECTED AREAS AREAS OF HIGH BIODIVERSITY VALUE

Alturas

Within 15 km of the San Guillermo Man and Biosphere Reserve

 

Hemlo

10-15 km from White Lake Provincial Park (IUCN Cat II)

 

Lagunas Norte

 

Within a Biodiversity Hotspot and Endemic Bird Area

Lama; Veladero (not operated by Barrick)

Both are in the multi-use area of San Guillermo Man and Biosphere Reserve. The nucleus of the Reserve is also an IUCN Cat II Protected Area.

Within a Key Biodiversity Area

Lumwana

Within 10km of the Acres Forest Reserve (IUCN unclassified Protected Area)

Within a High Biodiversity Wilderness Area

Pierina

Between 5 &10 km from the Huascaran National Park declared in 2009

Within a Biodiversity Hotspot Endemic Bird Area

Pueblo Viejo

Infrastructure crosses Aniana Vargas National Park declared 2009

Within a Biodiversity Hotspot and Endemic Bird Area

Turquoise Ridge

Between 5 & 10 km from the Osgood Mountain Milkvetch Habitat (IUCN Cat V)

 

Porgera (not operated by Barrick)

 

Within an Endemic Bird Area and High Biodiversity Wilderness Area

Wildlife Management

We have implemented controls at our operations to safeguard wildlife from mine processes and chemical exposure. These controls include barriers such as fencing and netting, the use of “bird balls” and other covers for ponds and tanks, and cyanide destruction processes at operations that use cyanide.

In 2017, we regret that one major wildlife mortality event ? A major wildlife mortality is an event in which five or more wildlife mortalities occur due to a single unwanted event or a single mortality occurs five or more times during a calendar year due to mine-related circumstances that are similar. took place. Approximately fifteen birds were found dead in a processing pond at the Veladero mine (which is not operated by Barrick) in November 2017. This event was reported to the relevant authorities, and the site will be upgrading the pond by installing a mesh and various hazing techniques to deter future bird landings.  In addition, pond inspections will be increased, particularly during the migratory season.

Many national conservation organizations, along with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), have developed inventories of plant and animal species listed by conservation status. The main purpose of the IUCN’s Red List and other national and international conservation lists is to catalogue and highlight those plants and animals that are facing a high risk of local and/or global extinction or are close to meeting the threatened-status thresholds.

Barrick’s support in the development and use of additional conservation data tools, such as the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT), is now providing easier access to protected area information and the potential presence of Red-Listed species for our operations and projects to consider in mine development. The IBAT provides a broad scope of habitat and species potential in an area, which is followed up by field work, when required, to determine whether habitat on the ground would be suitable for the flagged sensitive species.

Based on the latest information available through the IBAT, we estimate that approximately 89 species listed as threatened ? Threatened species are considered by the IUCN to be those listed as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. by the IUCN could be present at our sites if the habitat were suitable.  In our original environmental impact assessment ? The dates of site environmental impact assessments vary according to when the site was permitted. for each site, the Company identified twenty-five threatened species, including one critically endangered and three endangered species near our sites.  At a local level, some species are also identified as sensitive by local regulations; by identifying these species we are able to develop appropriate management plans to avoid harm where necessary.

IUCN Red-Listed Species Listed as Potentially Present in Areas Affected by Operations (2017)

IUCN Red-List Category Through IBAT

Critically Endangered

6

Endangered

32

Vulnerable

51

Near Threatened

75

Data Deficient

66

Least Concern

Between 113 and 946 ? Some species of least concern may be present at more than one Company property.

Total

343-1176

At many sites, we have projects specifically designed to protect rare or key wildlife; at others, we strive to enhance habitats. For example, at the Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic, we have worked for several years with local and internationally renowned scientists to protect several frog species that have been identified on the project site.

Protecting Sage Grouse

In 2015, Barrick signed a Bank Enabling Agreement with the Department of the Interior through USFWS and the BLM to voluntarily mitigate for impacts to sage grouse habitats in Nevada.

 

In Nevada, we support fire management programs to protect sage grouse and mule deer habitats, among other habitat and wildlife restoration programs, through the Barrick Conservation Council. In addition to fire protection, in 2015, Barrick signed a Bank Enabling Agreement with the Department of the Interior through USFWS and the BLM to voluntarily mitigate for impacts to sage grouse habitats in Nevada. Parties agreed to use The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Forecasting Tools to build a Habitat Conservation Bank to compensate for significant impacts of future mining activities. In 2017, activities were focused on developing and implementing project plans within Barrick’s Mitigation Bank to preserve and restore sage grouse habitat, as well as setting up the administrative details to manage the mitigation bank. Greater sage grouse are wide ranging and can be found across much of the western United States.