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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.

Our Approach

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.

All Barrick projects and operations complete 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.

Impact Assessments

Depending on the requirements of regulatory authorities and the scope of proposed activities at an operation or a development project, a variety of different assessment documents may be used to assess potential impacts before the activity is undertaken. These can include an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Environmental Assessment (EA) or Social Impact Assessment (SIA).

EIAs, EISs, and EAs are detailed studies used to identify the potential environmental impacts of a project or an expansion to an operation. They describe how project or expansion activities will interact with the local environment and present the proposed actions for managing these impacts to decision-makers and the public.

Leaving a positive and sustainable legacy also requires a strong understanding of the social and economic relationships between the mine and the surrounding communities. We therefore undertake SIAs early in a mine development process to assess the potential social impacts. We take the findings from these assessments into account during mine planning, operations and closure.

At Barrick, many EIAs, EISs, EAs, and SIAs are completed as combined Environmental & Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) to concurrently identify potential environmental and social impacts and provide in-depth analysis on managing both the intended and unintended environmental and social consequences of our projects. The ESIA process includes consultation with community stakeholders, local businesses and non-government organizations (NGOs), and gathering baseline information – both quantitative, such as community demographics, employment, wildlife counts and soil analysis, and qualitative, such as host government and community perceptions of the project and the company. The scope of an ESIA includes ancillary facilities as well, so the environment and communities located on transport routes or near power plants, for example, are also included.

The ESIAs may address the following resources for potential impact:

  • Air quality, water quality, wildlife, and local vegetation, including threatened, or endangered species;
  • Ecosystem services upon which stakeholders’ livelihoods are dependent;
  • Community exposure to water-related, vector-borne and communicable diseases that could result from site activities or the influx of temporary or permanent labor; and
  • Individuals and groups that may be directly or disproportionately affected by the site because of disadvantage or vulnerability.

The ESIA must include an environmental management plan that incorporates monitoring, compliance, enforcement, and environmental verification programs.

The ESIA process is supported by Barrick’s Community Relations Standard, which requires all sites to develop mitigation plans to address all significant social impacts and to review these on an annual basis so that we are addressing changing and emerging impacts on host communities.