Newmont’s Board of Directors established the Safety and Sustainability Committee to ensure that the Company’s commitment to health and safety, and environmentally sound and socially responsible resource development is demonstrated throughout every phase of the mine lifecycle.
In 2015, Newmont operated in a challenging business environment but remained steadfast in its commitment to demonstrate safety and sustainability leadership. The Committee monitored sustainability strategies and performance through quarterly meetings, monthly updates and site visits, taking a close interest in Newmont’s efforts to improve its safety record, meet global and regional commitments, and strengthen and integrate its approach to social and environmental risk management.
The Committee noted successful work to improve injury rates, verify critical controls for top fatality and health risks at each of Newmont’s operations, and align the Company’s approach to fatality prevention with the critical risk management guidance issued in 2015 by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). Management briefed the Committee and full Board on two fatalities suffered during the year and the safeguards and system improvements implemented to prevent recurrences.
The Committee also renewed its focus on Newmont’s commitment to respect and promote human rights. This included updating the Committee’s charter to more explicitly reflect its oversight on human rights and operational security, reviewing the Company’s refreshed security strategy and its alignment to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, and receiving feedback on the human rights gap assessments and pilots carried out at several operational sites as part of the Company’s rollout of its new Human Rights Standard. A number of human rights and operational security issues were also addressed by the full Board.
Committee members were pleased to note Newmont’s performance in meeting global public targets to establish water accounting frameworks and develop concurrent reclamation plans at each of its operations. News of the tragic tailings dam failure in Brazil drove an in-depth review of the Company’s closure and reclamation standards and practices as well as Newmont’s active participation in the industry-wide review of global standards led by the ICMM.
The Committee focused on the material social and environmental issues in each of Newmont’s regions at its quarterly meetings. Areas of particular focus included:
- North America – work to secure permits and social license needed to build a new mine in Long Canyon, Nevada, and to ensure that heritage sites are recorded and protected – I also visited Long Canyon in 2015 to make a first-hand assessment of the project
- South America – efforts to measure and improve social acceptance in Peru where anti-mining actions and labor unrest is credited with stalling more than $21 billion in mining investment
- Africa – installation of temporary and permanent energy capacity to secure cost-effective, reliable supply, and developing a long-term energy strategy
- Asia Pacific – engagement with Indonesian government officials to secure export permits and negotiate an amended Contract of Work to support the stability needed for long-term investment
The Committee also reviewed Newmont’s overall approach to managing country risk, supporting growth opportunities in two new countries; its environmental liabilities and accounting treatments; and its political spending throughout the year.
The Committee is encouraged by the Company’s progress to address community complaints and grievances in a timelier manner and improve data management and reporting through a new integrated system that supports greater efficiency and more robust assurance.
Over the next few years, the Committee will focus on monitoring Newmont’s efforts to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries; improve closure planning and governance, including how impacts on host communities are managed; reduce energy and water intensity; increase opportunities for local employment and procurement; and manage and report human rights risks and impacts in host communities.
Newmont’s Safety and Sustainability Committee believes that improving sustainably standards and practices ultimately creates a stronger and more resilient business, and supports management’s ongoing goal to lead the gold sector in profitability and responsibility.