Biodiversity Management

Protecting the world’s ecosystems is important to us and 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.

We are committed to biodiversity conservation and sound land use practices. As part of our Sustainability Excellence Management System (SEMS), all sites are required to assess potential risks and impacts related to sensitive areas, habitats and wetlands. Good conservation practices and sound land use activities can avoid or mitigate impacts to both neighbouring communities and biodiversity.

A high level of knowledge about the past and present land uses and biological resources in the areas where we operate is needed, including species and populations that are rare, threatened or endangered, or that hold special value to Indigenous Peoples. A good understanding of the past and current land uses, Traditional and local knowledge and the area’s biological diversity will also help support:

  • The selection of valued components on which to focus for environmental and social assessments;
  • Risk assessments and the selection of mitigation measures to avoid or reduce potential adverse environmental effects;
  • Concurrent reclamation of the site to re-establish natural resources and allow for their use by future generations; and
  • Partnership opportunities with other organizations for biodiversity conservation and land use planning.

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.

Our Context

We manage or own 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; all sites have completed their plans with the exception of Cerro Negro, where a draft plan is being finalized.

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) typically remain active 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 concurrent, temporary and final reclamation.

2015 2016 2017

Previous year disturbed and not yet rehabilitated [ha]

8,085

8,265

8,810

Newly disturbed land [ha]

215

555

500

Newly rehabilitated land [ha]

35

15

20

Current year disturbed and not yet rehabilitated land [ha]

8,265

8,810

9,290

Protected or High Biodiversity Areas

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. The Peñasquito mine has established conservation buffer zones around their permitted areas of operation. These areas will remain in force throughout the life of the mine. No specific conservation requirements or management activities are required within the conservation area. However, the operation has 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 20 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 Red List species as well as species registered on local conservation lists.

In 2015 we completed an analysis of IUCN and locally listed special status flora and fauna around our three Ontario mines. The IUCN Red List (IUCN 2015) was searched for species occurring in Ontario. The list was refined by including only those species occurring in the ecoregions surrounding the three mines: Lake Abitibi (Porcupine), Big Trout Lake (Musselwhite) and Wabigoon (Red Lake). Additional species noted also included those listed as special concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Across the three Ontario mines, there were 52 listed species with habitats in areas affected by the mine operations.

Our other operating sites outside of Ontario (Éléonore, Peñasquito and Cerro Negro) include possible habitat for 152 special status flora and fauna species in the areas affected by operations.

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; and
  • Reclaiming disturbed areas as quickly as possible and promoting habitat diversity within these reclaimed areas.