We are committed to complying with all environmental laws and regulations of the jurisdictions where we operate. Our sites are subject to strict internal and external scrutiny to verify full adherence to applicable regulations and permits as well as to our own internal standards. Our properties are routinely inspected by the applicable regulatory authorities to verify compliance. Our properties are also periodically audited for compliance with our Sustainability Excellence Management System (SEMS) standards. The Sustainability Committee of the Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the Environment and Sustainability Policy.
The following paragraphs describe the incidences of environmental non-compliance we experienced this year, as well as the corrective actions.
Cerro Negro received two Notices of Violation (NOV) from the provincial regulatory authority. The first was due to a tailings spill caused by a breakage in a discharge pipe. Following the spill, all of the soil affected by the spill was recovered, and the pipe was repaired with proper anchors installed. While the spill was completely remediated, a fine equivalent to approximately CAD$80,000 was issued. The second NOV was due to a diesel spill that has occurred in 2012 caused by a fault in the automatic loading control. The spill resulted in a fine during 2017 of approximately CAD$12,000. Following the spill, the site established a register of controls which included appointing more personnel to the control room and developing a larger containment area.
At the Equity Silver closed site, an NOV was issued by the provincial regulatory authority after a severe rain-on-snow event resulted in flow to a sump that exceeded the sump’s pump capacity and resulted in an overflow. As a result of the event, the site has secured a portable pump that can be used in emergency situations and is evaluating a new pump system for 2018.
Éléonore received seven NOVs from provincial authorities which were all related to one issue: the discharge from the water treatment plant exceeding the toxicity limits for trout and daphnia. No fines resulted from these NOVs. While this compliance issue persisted in 2017 from 2016, we achieved significant compliance improvements by completing and commissioning an additional water treatment plant in 2017. There was one additional NOV from provincial authorities related to late reporting and clean-up of a petroleum spill. The spill resulted in no environmental impact; it was in a confined area that the site considered contained, which is why the spill was not reported immediately. To avoid a repeat issue, spill reporting practices were subsequently redefined to include any upsets in this particular containment zone.
At Porcupine, two NOVs were received from the provincial regulatory authority relating to vibration exceedances from blasting at the Hollinger Open Pit that occurred in September 2016. The site conducted a revision and improvement to its blasting procedures immediately after the events. Porcupine also received a Provincial Officer’s Order (POO) from the provincial authority after a significant rainfall caused the migration of silt from a haul road offsite. Following the event, the site constructed a freshwater diversion ditch and installed additional sediment controls. Finally, the site received an Environmental Penalty (EP) from the provincial authority for an effluent pH exceedance from its effluent treatment facility that occurred in 2016. This exceedance resulted, in a CAD$12,500 fine in 2017. The site has since developed protocols to measure pH levels prior to discharging to the receiving environment.