Our Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Policy states our commitment to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and/or remediate our impacts on the environment and proactively manage risks. We use fact- and science-based methodologies and leading best practices to demonstrate our environmental stewardship. However, when incidents do occur, we are committed to transparent reporting and full mitigation. Our guiding principles state we will:
- Operate our facilities at all times in compliance with applicable laws and regulations and Newmont standards.
- Adhere to and update environmental standards that are protective of both human health and the environment at the facilities we build and operate.
- Develop closure and reclamation plans during the design phase, and implement those plans during operations to provide for long-term environmental stability and suitable post-mining beneficial land uses.
We rate environmental incidents on a severity scale of one to five, and consider Levels 1 and 2 incidents to be relatively minor and Levels 3 to 5 incidents to be more significant. In 2015, we recorded five significant environmental incidents, with four Level 3 releases related to the use of cyanide. A Level 3 release occurred at our Yanacocha operation in Peru when a contractor’s vehicle transporting lime swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle and overturned, spilled 3 tonnes of lime and 2 gallons of hydraulic oil. The spill was contained and did not affect water bodies, wildlife or human health.
Newmont is a signatory to the International Cyanide Management Code (the Code). In 2015, recertification audits were conducted at the Boddington and Tanami operations in Australia and at the Carlin and Phoenix operations in Nevada. At the end 2015, 10 of the 11 Newmont operations that use cyanide were certified as compliant with the Code. The remaining site, Tanami in Australia, was audited late in the year and is expecting its re-certification certificate in early 2016 in accordance with the Code certification process. In December, the new Emigrant heap leach facility – which is part of the greater Carlin operation – was certified for the first time. Emigrant will be included in the overall Carlin recertification process going forward.
ISO 14001 certification of our environmental management systems is required at all the sites we manage. Annual third-party audits ensure we are working to minimize our environmental impacts, and setting and achieving environmental objectives. All our operations’ environmental management systems are certified to ISO 14001 standards, with the exception of Akyem in Ghana. Akyem commenced the audit process in October 2015 by conducting a third-party pre-certification audit. The final certification is expected in 2016.
Our operating sites also conduct internal and third-party audits and inspections to assess compliance with applicable environmental regulatory laws and commitments. Our operations hosted 120 inspections by regulatory agencies in 2015 and received no sanctions. We did incur four fines totaling $401,246 related to the following environmental matters:
- We reached a settlement with the State of Nevada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding mercury releases recorded during inspections in 2007. Newmont did not admit any violation or offense, but agreed to pay two fines totaling $395,000 to the state and EPA as part of the settlement.
- At our Boddington Operation in Western Australia, Australia’s Department of Mines and Petroleum imposed two fines totalling $6,246 for not meeting the minimum expenditure required on two mining leases under the Mining Act 1978.
|Total environmental releases on site||80||68||70||84||43|
|Total environmental releases off site||0||1||1||0||0|
|Total environmental releases||80||69||71||84||43|
|Significant hydrocarbon releases||0||3||1||6||1|
|Significant chemical releases||0||2||1||1||0|
|Other significant releases||0||2||0||1||0|
|Total Level 3 releases||6||11||7||9||5|
|Total Level 4 releases||0||0||0||0||2|
|Total Level 5 releases||0||0||0||0||0|
|Mercury release (lbs)||0||0||0||0||0.02|
|Note: All cyanide releases in 2015 were on site, contained within the site boundaries and remediated according to applicable regulations.|
|Total number of fines||1||4||2||4||4|
|Monetary value of fines||$8,000||$161,339||$104,005||$119,651||$401,246|
|Total number of sanctions||2||0||0||0||0|
We will continue to maintain ISO 14001 certification at all operating sites. The Lone Tree operation is scheduled to undergo International Cyanide Management Code (the Code) recertification in 2016. At our Merian project in Suriname, we also will begin to prepare for the certification audit that will be conducted within 12 months of commencing commercial production, which is expected in late 2016.