Home  >  Sustainability  >  Environment

Environment

Protecting the Environment

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 where feasible. This commitment is codified in our Environmental policy.

73%
Water recycled and reused

78%
Water recycled in water stressed areas

4%
Energy from renewable sources

10%
Committed to reducing GHG emissions by at least 10% by 2030

Zero
Class 1 incidents

76%
Operations certified to ISO 14001:2015 standard (13/17)

As soon as we start planning for the development of a mine, we consider the potential environmental impacts it may have — a process that continues throughout its operational life. We conduct an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) during the feasibility stage of any project to help us identify and understand the environmental baseline conditions in the project area and any potential impacts and risks. As part of this process an Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) is developed. The ESMP outlines the mitigation measures to be implemented during each phase of a project throughout the Life of Mine. Should a project move to construction and operational phases, we use the ESIA and the ESMP to inform the development of a site-specific Environmental Management System (EMS). Through the EMS, we then identify and implement the controls appropriate to the risks present.

Each site’s EMS is reviewed annually, and the site 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.

We have a target for the EMS at all our mines to be certified to ISO 14001:2015 standard by the end of 2020.

Managing Environmental Incidents

When incidents do occur, we learn from them, identify root causes, and add checks and controls as needed.

One of the 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 1 to 3 scale based on severity of impact.

Class One – High Significance
We consider an incident to be Class One if it:

  • Causes significant negative impacts on human health or the environment
  • Extends onto public land and could potentially cause significant impact to nearby communities, livestock, or wildlife
  • Results in a breach of our license conditions or laws and standards
  • Results in a release of cyanide to any surface water that will leave site boundaries or any groundwater

Class Two – Medium Significance
We consider an incident to be Class Two if it:

  • Could be reasonably anticipated to result in only local or short-term environmental or community impact requiring minor remediation
  • Has the potential to breach license conditions (or convention conditions and law) or prescribed and regulatory thresholds but does not require immediate regulatory notification

Class Three – Low Significance
We consider an incident to be Class Three if it:

  • Has minimal on-site impacts that do not adversely affect human health or the environment
  • Does not require immediate reporting and will be dealt with by existing Standard Operating Procedures

Should an incident occur, 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.

Reducing Freshwater Use and Protecting Water Quality

Each site tailors their water management plans according to their surroundings.

Steady, reliable and secure access to water is crucial to the effective operation of our mines. It is also a fundamental human right. Reducing the volume of freshwater we use, and protecting water quality reduces our environmental footprint and helps us maintain community and stakeholder support.

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.

Each mine has its own site-specific water management plan, which considers: the different water sources available, the local climate conditions, the 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 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 corporate 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
  • Regulatory risks related to permitting limits as well as municipal and national regulations for water use

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.

Water Performance in 2019

Water Performance

Safely Managing Tailings Storage Facilities

Our standards and inspections are compliant with ICMM guidelines.

Tailings are a common waste product generated by the mining process and is created as mined ore is crushed, milled and processed to separate the valuable minerals from the ore. Tailings 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 Storage Facility (TSF). 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.

70
TSFs currently managed by Barrick

22
Operational TSFs

47
Closed TSFs

1
Inactive TASF

Porgera
Riverine tailings disposal system used at Porgera Joint Venture

Our approach to tailings management is set out in our Tailings and Heap Leach Management Standard and complies with the recently updated ICMM guidelines. The standard puts safety at the center of tailings management and sets out six levels of inspection and surety for the safe management and operation of TSFs and Heap leaches.

 

Six Levels of Surety for Tailings Management

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 leaches, these are:
 

Monitoring technology

Our operating sites employ monitoring systems such as vibrating wire piezometers, inclinometers, drone surveys, satellite surveys and imagery, static prisms for movement detection, drainage monitoring, and other technologies to monitor TSF’s abutments, natural slopes and water levels.

Routine inspection

Conducted by suitably qualified and experienced operation site personnel, in compliance with Operation, Maintenance and Surveillance (OMS) Manual requirements. Intended to ensure that the TSF is operating within prescribed parameters.

EoR / Dam safety inspection

Conducted by the Engineer of Record (EoR) responsible for the design of the current TSF phase, or by a suitably qualified and experienced geotechnical engineer outside of Barrick with a comprehensive understanding of the current TSF phase. Intended to verify that the existing anticipated TSF conditions follow design intent and that sitespecific performance objectives are being met.

Dam safety review

Conducted by a suitably qualified and experienced geotechnical engineer outside of Barrick who is neither the EoR nor a representative of the TSF operation or closure design consulting firm and who has a comprehensive understanding of the current TSF phase. Intended to provide a detailed, independent assessment of the safety and operational stewardship of the TSF.

Assurance audit

Conducted by our internal corporate technical specialists. Expected audit frequency of one to three years, based in part on compliance level and previous findings. Intended to ensure that the existing or anticipated TSF conditions and management procedures comply with Barrick’s corporate Tailings Management Standard.

Independent Tailings Review Committee

Conducted by one or more qualified and internationally recognized experts outside of Barrick and not involved with preparation of the TSF design. Intended to provide an expert, independent opinion as to whether or not the TSF design and current and/or anticipated performance demonstrated an acceptable level of care, from geotechnical, hydrotechnical and environmental perspectives and with reference to acceptable international practice.

Aiming to Minimize Non-Processing Waste

Avoiding, reducing, re-using, and recycling non-mine waste.

While waste from the mining process represents our most significant waste stream, we also create a relatively small quantity of non-processing waste each year. These include batteries, fluorescent lights, waste oils, solvents, electronic waste, and laboratory assay wastes.

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 to identify opportunities for improvement.

Total Waste by Type 1

Total Waste by Type

  1. Legacy Barrick sites did not gather non-processing waste data at a group level prior to 2019, therefore historic data for waste by type is not available.

Climate Change

Doing our part to mitigate against the battle of our time.

We recognize that climate change, including shifts in temperature, precipitation and more frequent severe weather events, could affect the mining industry in a range of possible ways. Volatile climatic conditions can affect the stability and effectiveness of infrastructure and equipment; potentially impact environmental protection and site closure practices; lead to changes in the regulatory environment, including increased carbon tax regimes; and potentially impact the stability and cost of water and energy supplies. We therefore view climate change as a company, community and global concern.

During 2019 we reviewed and updated our climate strategy. Our Strategy has three pillars:

  • Identify, understand and mitigate the risks associated with climate change
  • Measure and reduce our impacts on climate change
  • Improve our disclosure on climate change

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.

The Board’s Corporate Governance & Nominating Committee, which meets quarterly, is responsible for overseeing Barrick’s policies, programs, and performance relating to the environment, including climate change. At management level, the E&S Committee reviews performance and progress in addressing climate change across our sites. The Audit & Risk Committee assisted 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 2019. In addition, the Audit & Risk Committee reviewed the company’s approach to climate change in the context of Barrick’s public disclosure.

We track our energy data to understand our total energy consumption, and the source. 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 one (direct) and scope two (indirect) emissions. By understanding our energy mix and our carbon emissions, we can understand the contribution and value of our clean energy initiatives such as the hydropower stations in Kibali, both in terms of cost savings and emissions avoided.

Approximately 88% of our emissions are scope one emissions, which are direct emissions such as from the burning of fuel at our own power plants. We expect reported emissions in 2020 to be higher than 2019 reported emissions as emissions from Nevada Gold Mines and the Tanzanian operations will be reported for the full year for the first time.

Energy Consumption GJ (000)

Energy Consumption GJ (000)

Scope 1 and 2 Emissions Tonnes - CO2-E1

Scope 1 and 2 Emissions Tonnes - CO2-E

Managing Our Biodiversity Impacts Everywhere We Operate

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

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.

Our commitments to biodiversity management are set out in our Biodiversity Policy. It includes commitments to not explore, mine, drill or operate in declared natural world heritage sites, and apply a mitigation hierarchy to manage and offset our biodiversity impacts.
 

Mitigation Hierarchy Applied to Biodiversity

Mitigation Heirarchy Applied to Biodiversity

Mine Closure Planning

Planning a mine’s closure before the first shovel breaks ground.

Our approach to mine closure reflects our ambition of sharing the benefits with stakeholders. Even in closure, we want to maximize the value of the asset for the local community. How we manage both the environmental and social aspects of closure is set out in our Closure Standard.

To deliver on these commitments, we establish closure plans for all our mines, before construction begins. These plans set out 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 to make sure all closure obligations are met.