We strive to minimize our environmental footprint wherever we work, and that commitment is enshrined in our 10 Guiding Principles for Corporate Responsibility and our corporate Environmental Policy. It is also reinforced by the Board of Directors through the Board's Corporate Responsibility Committee and their charter.
Managing for the Environment
At Kinross, we pride ourselves on being skilled, responsible operators who strive not only to meet, but to exceed environmental regulatory requirements wherever we operate. We believe that environmental accountability is the responsibility of everyone at Kinross, and critical aspects of our environmental program include setting clear performance targets and operating procedures at all our operations and ensuring that employees and contractors understand and are capable of performing their responsibilities in accordance with Kinross standards.
Measuring and Reporting Performance
Across Kinross, we operate with the clear mandate of being in full compliance at all times with corporate standards, applicable laws, regulations and permit requirements. We also measure our environmental performance through setting and tracking performance indicators in key areas such as water and air. Our audit program - in which audits are conducted at each site every two years - also plays a critical role in continuously improving our environmental management systems.
Environmental performance is measured and reported to the Board's Corporate Responsibility Committee quarterly, and to the Senior Leadership Team monthly. We report our environmental performance annually for our key stakeholders and every two years through our Corporate Responsibility Report, which is published in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines.
Environmental stewardship is a priority for Kinross, consistent with our core value of Outstanding Corporate Citizenship. We strive to minimize our environmental footprint wherever we work and to address our environmental responsibilities in a manner that demonstrates our commitment to industry-wide leadership. This requires that we:
Establish high standards for performance
Engage our stakeholders
Plan for the entire life-cycle of our activities
Hold ourselves accountable for our performance
Measure and report our performance
The Corporate Responsibility Committee of the Board of Directors meets on a regular basis to monitor environmental performance and confirm that Kinross adheres to this policy.
Water is used in our mining operations for ore processing and dust suppression and control. Wherever possible, Kinross recycles water from our processing operations to reduce water consumption. We also have flow meters at critical points in our water management system, on-going surface and groundwater monitoring programs, and maintain predictive water balance models to ensure that water is managed well, and that site discharges, if required, are controlled and meet all regulatory requirements.
All of our milling and heap-leach process operations are designed to be closed loop systems and recirculate water. In many cases, run-off from the mine and other water, such as treated camp sewage, are also captured in the process water cycle. Where local regulations allow and water quality standards are met, some water may be discharged.
A case example of our water management practices in Paracatu, Brazil can be seen at: United Waters of Esphala Creek project, which aims to promote environmental preservation and improve the hydrologic characteristics of the creek, which 16 local families depend on for agricultural activities and cattle farming.
The most common air emission at our operations is dust, which is produced from road travel and mining operations. Dust from roads is controlled by road watering and the managed application of chemical surfactants. Dust at crushers and conveyor belt systems is controlled with mist sprays and collection systems deployed at emission sources.
Other common air emissions are the result of hydrocarbon combustion in trucks and other heavy equipment, mobile generators and other power sources. These emissions are primarily carbon dioxide, which we report annually through the Carbon Disclosure Project.
Climate change associated with industry and other human activities that produce greenhouse gases is a pressing public concern. Greenhouse gas emissions at Kinross are almost entirely associated with our consumption of electricity and hydrocarbon fuels, which account for a significant portion of our costs. We have both an environmental as well as an economic imperative to improve efficiencies and limit greenhouse gas emissions at our operations.
Across the company we have established working groups of engineers who are analyzing our energy consumption and developing strategies to improve performance.
Mining involves the movement of uneconomic rock to access ores and the separation of recoverable metals from ores. Consequently the largest quantities of waste produced by mining are associated with waste rock and tailings. In addition to these "mineral wastes", small quantities of non-mineral wastes are also produced. Kinross has guidelines, procedures and processes in place to manage both types of wastes so that the environment is protected.
We recycle and reuse waste from our operations to the maximum practicable extent. Materials that cannot be recycled are disposed of in a manner that is environmentally acceptable and in compliance with regulations. Waste products include spent batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, cupels and crucibles, waste oil and spent solvents and domestic wastes. We have procedures in place at all sites that outline the proper handling and storage of wastes to ensure that people and the environment are protected.
In mining, mechanical and chemical processes are used to extract the desired products - gold and silver - from mined ore. What is left are residual materials called waste rock and tailings.
Consisting of ground rock and residual process effluents, tailings are a significant waste at most of our mining operations. At our facilities, tailings are placed into engineered storage facilities - usually behind dams built on land near the mine, known as tailings dams. After mining stops at a site, tailings dams are decommissioned and reclaimed to ensure that they become a part of the post-mine land use and pose no hazard to the public or environment.
The objective of our tailings management program is to design, build and operate tailings structures that are:
In addition to annual reviews by the Engineer of Record, all of our tailings facilities are periodically reviewed by an independent engineer, to further ensure that these facilities are meeting our objectives for stability and safety.
Each operation is required to maintain a waste rock management plan that includes procedures to identify and manage materials that may be subject to leaching, including acids, metals or other substances that could potentially impact surface or groundwater. Waste rock piles are designed and constructed to be stable. We have company-wide systems to regularly monitor and inspect waste piles to ensure that they are being maintained in accordance with our standards. If waste rock is geochemically suitable, in some cases it can be used as a source for fill, road base or other construction purposes.
Cyanide is one of the most efficient and safe reagents for the extraction of gold from rock. Consistent with our commitment to Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) best practices, we have committed to comply with the International Cyanide Management Code. This voluntary code, developed by a multi-stakeholder group under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, includes a requirement for third-party certification. The Code focuses on the safe manufacture, transportation, storage, use and decommissioning of cyanide and associated facilities. Going well beyond legal requirements in most of our locations, the Code establishes high EHS design and operating standards for all Kinross operations.
Click here to read about how one of our mines was the first in Russia to be certified by the International Cyanide Management Code.
Returning land disturbed by mining to stable and productive post-mining land uses is a cornerstone of our commitment to responsible environmental stewardship. At Kinross, reclamation planning begins before construction and is regularly updated throughout the life of each mining operation. During the life of each mine, reclamation test plots as well as engineering and environmental studies assist us in verifying and optimizing reclamation strategies and plans. Every effort is made to reclaim land no longer required for operations while mining operations are still active.
Click here to learn about Kinross' reclamation awards from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for our DeLamar and Mineral Hill mine sites.
Before commencing fieldwork appropriate plans are developed to avoid or minimize impacts on biological resources. Baseline surveys of biological resources are completed in advance of mine development. Using baseline information, biological resource plans are developed to protect the biological resources in the vicinity of our operations. Where there is potential for impacts to those communities, mining operations are designed to avoid, minimize or mitigate their effects.
Biological resource plans include methods to prevent or minimize and mitigate impacts through implemention of Best Management Practices, monitoring programs, and development of biological stewardship objectives.
Learn more about our efforts to protect and preserve biodiversity in Ecuador by clicking here.