Protecting the world’s ecosystems is important for our stakeholders. As resources become scarcer, different ecosystems are altered, which brings potential impacts on biodiversity, including wildlife, plants, soil, water and air. These changes present both a risk and an opportunity for us. Engagement with communities, NGOs and governments is important to ensuring we have an opportunity to leave a positive impact on the region’s biodiversity.
As part of the SEMS, all sites are required to assess potential risks and impacts related to sensitive areas, habitats and wetlands. This includes developing appropriate management plans and looking for mitigation options, if applicable.
Biodiversity considerations are also integrated into our analytical tools – specifically, the environmental impact assessments that are required at all of our operations prior to their construction. The methodology used for determining risk exposure for biodiversity is determined during the preparation of the environmental impact assessment and is typically driven by regulations or discussions with the applicable regulatory authority.
We manage over 700,000 hectares of land at and around our projects and mines. Our operations span a range of ecosystems, from the Boreal Forest of northern Canada to the Patagonia area of Argentina. We recognize the value of services in these ecosystems. In all cases, we seek to design, construct, operate and close our operations in ways that minimize the risks to biodiversity. We have three operating sites that are required to have a biodiversity management plan in place: Marlin, Los Filos and Peñasquito, all of which are currently in place (100%).
After mining disturbances, we reclaim the disturbed areas as quickly as possible. However, the nature of hard rock mining means that large areas of disturbance, such as the pit, active waste rock dump faces and tailings dams, remain throughout the life of the mine and are not available for reclamation until mine closure. Land areas, disturbance and reclamation activities are indicated below and include both concurrent/temporary and final reclamation.
Disturbance and Rehabilitation38
|Previous year disturbed and not yet rehabilitated (ha)||9,48039||9,73040||10,520|
|Newly disturbed land (ha)||2,120||400||450|
|Newly rehabilitated land (ha)||40||30||40|
|Current year disturbed and not yet rehabilitated land (ha)||11,560||10,100||10,940|
Protected or High Biodiversity Areas
In Argentina, Cerro Negro is near the Pinturas River Valley, which is the location of Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands), a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Cerro Negro operation is not within this sensitive area; however, Cerro Negro owns a nearby ranch (20,000 hectares), and a section of the Pinturas River Valley (1,771 hectares) passes through a corner of this ranch. Currently, the Pinturas River Valley does not have an official classification, but it is locally recognized as a sensitive and valuable area. The total land area owned, managed or leased pertaining to Cerro Negro is 146,550 hectares, and of this total, 1,771 hectares fall within the category of “land in or containing protected areas, or areas of high biodiversity”.
Additionally, in Mexico, a Land Use Change Authorization is required to change an existing land use to a mining land use prior to construction activities. The authorization identifies the areas in which operational activities and infrastructure will be located. Under Mexican legislation, the permitted area must include a buffer zone around the area of impact, and the operation is required to maintain this area as one of conservation. No mining activity may be undertaken in the conservation area unless a Land Use Change Authorization is sought from, and granted by, the relevant environmental authority. Both our Los Filos and Peñasquito mines have established conservation buffer zones around their permitted areas of operation and these areas will remain in force throughout the lives of the projects. No specific conservation requirements or management activities are required within the conservation area. However, both operations have implemented management plans to minimize impacts in these areas.
There have been no significant impacts to biodiversity from our activities in these areas.
Habitats Protected or Restored
All rehabilitated land is considered potential habitat; therefore, across our operations, there were 40 hectares of habitat restored during the reporting year. This rehabilitation was overseen by us and our contractors.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and National Red List Species
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species. Each site has assessed the risk of impacting habitat for any IUCN Red List species as well as species listed on national conservation lists.
In Ontario, there are a total of 271 flora and fauna species listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as possibly being present in Ontario. This does not necessarily reflect what species are present in and around our three Ontario operations; therefore, we conducted a species analysis in 2015 to better identify which species are actually present, or likely to be present, at or around the Ontario mine sites. According to the study results, there are 39 flora and fauna species listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species that could be present at or around our Ontario mine sites.
Other operations outside of Ontario include possible habitat for 198 special status flora and fauna species in the areas affected by our operations, for a total of 237 species.
All of our sites pay particular attention to areas of the operation that could potentially harm wildlife. Some of the precautions we take include:
- Minimizing disturbances to vegetation and waterbodies
- Implementing programs to control pests and weeds
- Maintaining cyanide levels in all open waters (including tailings dams) below levels that pose a threat to wildlife (consistent with the International Cyanide Management Code)
- Promoting employee and community awareness programs regarding wildlife
- Reclaiming disturbed areas as quickly as possible and promoting habitat diversity within these reclaimed areas