Biodiversity Management

Protecting the world’s ecosystems is important to us and for our stakeholders. As resources become scarcer, ecosystems are altered, with potential impacts on biodiversity in wildlife, plants, soil, water and air. These changes present both a risk and an opportunity. Engagement with communities, NGOs and governments is important to ensure 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 included in the environmental impact assessments that are required at all of our operations prior to their construction. The biodiversity risk is determined during the environmental impact assessment phase, and is typically driven by regulations and discussions with relevant stakeholders, including the applicable regulatory authority.

We manage over 400,000 hectares of land at and around our operating mines. Our operations span a range of ecosystems, from the boreal forests of northern Canada to the Patagonia area of Argentina. In all cases, we seek to design, construct, operate and ultimately close our operations in ways that minimize the risks to biodiversity. All our operating sites are required to have a biodiversity management plan in place; the only mine without one is Cerro Negro, which conducted the required monitoring studies in 2016 and will develop a plan in 2017.

After land is disturbed by exploration or mining, we reclaim the disturbed areas as quickly as possible. By the nature of hard rock mining, large areas of disturbance (such as the pit, active waste rock dump faces, and tailings dams) can remain throughout the life of the mine, and may not be reclaimable until mine closure. Land areas, disturbance and reclamation activities are indicated below and include both concurrent/temporary and final reclamation.

Disturbance and Rehabilitation1

2016 2015 2014 2013

Previous year disturbed and not yet rehabilitated (ha)

9,980

9,470

9,020

8,615

Newly disturbed land (ha)

570

545

360

440

Newly rehabilitated land (ha)

50

40

10

35

Current year disturbed and not yet rehabilitated land (ha)

10,500

9,980

9,370

9,020

Protected or High Biodiversity Areas

Cerro Negro, in Argentina, is near the Pinturas River Valley, the location of Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands), a UNESCO World Heritage site. Recent legislation designated the zone a protected area due to its cultural resources. A portion of Cerro Negro, and a ranch owned by Cerro Negro, fall within this protected area. The total land area owned, managed or leased pertaining to Cerro Negro is approximately 120,000 hectares, and of this total, 3,499 hectares fall within the category of “land in or containing protected areas, or areas of high biodiversity”.

In Mexico, a Land Use Change Authorization is required before land can be designated as “mining land”. The authorization identifies the areas in which operational activities and infrastructure can be located. Under Mexican legislation, the permitted area must include a buffer zone around the area of impact, which must be maintained as a conservation area. Both our Los Filos and Peñasquito mines have established conservation buffer zones around their permitted areas of operation. These areas will remain in force throughout the lives of the mines. 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 can be considered potential habitat; therefore, across our operations, there were 50 hectares of habitat restored during the reporting year. This rehabilitation was overseen by our contractors and us.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and National Red List Species

The 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 Red List species as well as species listed on local conservation lists.

Around our three Ontario mines, in 2015 we completed an analysis of IUCN and locally listed special status flora and fauna. The study identified 38 flora and fauna species that could be present at or around the mine sites. Our other operating sites outside of Ontario include possible habitat for 117 special status flora and fauna species in the areas affected by operations, for a total of 155 species.

All of our sites pay particular attention to areas of the operation that could potentially harm wildlife. Precautions 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