Mining activities, including ore extraction, generation of solid waste, and ore refining and processing, release gases and fine particulates that can pose environmental and public health risks. The right to health has been identified as a salient human rights risk associated with our business activities.
Our Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Policy states our commitment and our Air Emissions Management Standard guides our approach to assessing and managing air emissions in a manner that complies with all laws and regulations and protects human health and the environment. Our approach to managing emissions characterized as greenhouse gases (GHG) is detailed in the Energy and Climate Change section of this report.
All sites must develop a plan that includes strategies, management practices and responsibilities for applying effective air quality controls and monitoring and reporting against our performance.
Our material emissions are sulfur and nitrogen oxides (SOx and NOx), particulate matter (PM) and mercury. SOx and NOx emissions are primarily generated at our furnaces and coal-fired power plants.
Our fugitive PM emissions (i.e., irregular emissions from dispersed sources) are primarily dust from mining activities such as blasting, excavating, crushing ore, removing topsoil and operating heavy equipment on unpaved roads.
While Newmont does not use mercury to mine or extract gold, mercury is present as naturally occurring compounds in ore at several of our operations. In some of Newmont’s gold-recovery processes, ore or ore concentrate is heated to temperatures that transform naturally occurring mercury mineral compounds into gaseous elemental mercury. To prevent gaseous mercury from entering the environment, Newmont captures it using maximum achievable control technology (MACT) – as defined by the Nevada Mercury Control Program standard – and retires or stores the collected mercury, thereby removing it from circulation.
In Nevada, our TS Power Plant – a 242-megawatt coal-fired electricity generating plant – uses a brominated activated carbon injection system and a continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS), one of the first mercury-specific CEMS in the United States, to significantly reduce mercury emissions. The power plant also is equipped with controls to reduce SOx, NOx and PM emissions and is compliant with MACT standards on emission limits.
Along with reporting our air emissions in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), we also annually report our air emissions through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) program and Australia’s National Pollutant Inventory.
Our air emissions reflect the inherent variations in ore composition as we mine from one part of the ore body to another.
Compared to 2014, total mercury emissions decreased 41 percent, and our total SOx emissions decreased 80 percent. The decommissioning of the Gidji roaster at KCGM in June was the biggest driver of the decrease.
- SOx (SO2)
- NOx (NO2)
|Carbon monoxide (CO)||2.7||2.4||2.5||2.3||2.6|
- Mercury (Hg)
- Arsenic (As)
- Lead (Pb)
- Selenium (Se)
All sites will implement action plans to address any areas identified in the gap analysis in order to be in full compliance with the updated standards by mid-2016.
At the end of 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new ozone standard, which lowers the amount of allowable ground-level ozone from 75 parts per million (ppm) to 70 ppm, went into effect. None of our U.S.-based operations are in known non-attainment areas – those areas where ozone readings are consistently above the EPA’s air quality standards. However, the rule requires future official monitoring data to identify any new non-attainment areas. Several states and industry groups have filed lawsuits opposing the new rule. We will continue to monitor developments on this matter.