- 2014 Performance
- Future Focus
Newmont’s operations generate both mineral and non-mineral waste through mining and processing activities. Effective waste management practices are critical to protecting the environment and reducing the liabilities and long-term risks associated with inadequate waste management facilities and protections.
Our Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Policy outlines our commitment to manage waste generated by our activities in a manner that protects the environment and human health throughout the mine lifecycle; promotes beneficial post-mining land use; and reduces post-mining closure and reclamation liabilities.
The policy also requires any mercury byproduct – which is managed as a waste material – to be permanently retired from circulation using long-term safe storage as defined in the U.S. Mercury Export Ban Act. Newmont does not use mercury to mine or extract gold. However, mercury naturally occurs in ore at several of our operations, and gold processing can generate mercury compounds. All byproduct mercury from our Nevada operations is being stored at an off-site U.S. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)-permitted facility. Stabilized forms of mercury – such as mercury sulfide – are approved for land disposal at licensed facilities in North America and the European Union.
Supporting our policy is a set of global standards that establish the minimum requirements for managing waste.
Our Waste Management Standard requires sites to develop a plan that addresses the generation, segregation, collection, storage, transportation, minimization, reuse/recycle, and disposal of hazardous wastes, non-hazardous wastes, wastewater and mercury. The Waste Management Standard is applicable to on-site landfills, waste accumulation facilities, sewage treatment plants and waste incinerators.
Our Waste Rock and Ore Stockpile Management Standard requires sites to characterize ore and waste rock and to carefully design, construct, operate, close and reclaim rock stockpiles including pit backfills.
This standard also addresses the risk to surface and groundwater quality from acid rock drainage (ARD), which is generated when water comes into contact with certain minerals in the rock that are oxidized by exposure to air, precipitation and naturally occurring bacteria. To limit potential environmental impacts from ARD, our operations implement site-specific management strategies so that the design and operation of mineral waste storage facilities minimize ARD risks. In instances where prevention is not possible, appropriate management measures, such as the collection and treatment of ARD, are used to protect human health and the environment.
Newmont is an active member of the International Network for Acid Prevention (INAP), an industry-led group created to promote best management practices in handling potentially acid-generating materials such as waste rock and tailings.
Our Tailings and Heap Leach Facility Management Standard requires sites to protect surface water and groundwater, prevent uncontrolled releases of pollutants or contaminants to the environment, manage process fluids and meet requirements for closure and reclamation.
Tailings are created as mined ore is reduced into sand-sized particles and then mixed with water and moved as slurry through the extraction process. After removal of the valuable minerals, the remaining milled rock slurry – called tailings – flows to an engineered tailings storage facility (TSF) that is designed to safety contain the tailings even during extreme climatic or seismic events. All TSFs are routinely inspected by qualified personnel and annually inspected by a qualified engineer.
Our Hazardous Materials Management Standard requires sites to minimize the use of hazardous materials – inclusive of hydrocarbons and cyanide – and ensures that the transfer, distribution and storage of such materials protect human health and the environment. We seek to minimize the quantity of hazardous and non-hazardous waste we generate by replacing hazardous chemicals with less hazardous products whenever possible.
Our Batu Hijau mine in Indonesia minimizes hydrocarbon wastes by recycling used oil as a component of ammonium nitrate-based explosives. The used oil replaces a portion of diesel fuel used in explosives.
Mining and processing activities also generate non-hazardous waste such as scrap metal, spent tires and used oil. Every effort is made to recycle or reuse hazardous and non-hazardous wastes. All materials are recycled or disposed in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations.