Throughout the mine lifecycle, our activities are subject to a wide range of laws and regulations governing worker health and safety, land use, environmental protections and many other areas. Ensuring compliance in this complex regulatory environment is crucial to securing our license to operate and protecting our reputation.
Our commitment to conduct business in a manner that adheres to all applicable laws and regulations is stated in our Code of Conduct and supported by our policies and standards.
We also participate in key voluntary compliance and reporting programs to demonstrate our commitment to transparency and good governance.
Our Integrated Management System (IMS) integrates our health and safety, environmental, security, and social responsibility management systems into one global system that allows us to conduct comprehensive internal audits against our technical standards.
All our sites undergo third-party certification of our environmental management systems to the internationally accepted ISO 14001 standard and conduct third-party certification of compliance with the International Cyanide Management Code (the “Code&”), which is designed to improve cyanide management practices in the gold mining industry. We require new operations to achieve Code certification within 12 months of reaching commercial production. Existing sites must maintain ISO 14001 certification and conduct an independent Code recertification process every three years.
In addition to internal efforts to verify performance, each regulatory regime in which we operate closely monitors our activities. All sites are inspected at least annually and often more frequently by various local, regional and national government agencies that review our operational, health and safety, security, environmental and social performance.
Our mines in the U.S. are subject to regulation by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). MSHA personnel conduct inspections on a regular basis, and they issue citations and orders when they believe a violation of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Act or any health or safety standard or regulation has occurred. These citations and orders may result in fines, penalties or sanctions, or temporary or extended closures at our mining operations.
Through our IMS, we track environmental, social, safety, health, security, operational and legal events and rate the actual and potential consequences on a severity scale of zero to five. “Level 0” events are near misses that did not result in injury or damage but had the potential to do so. Level 1 and 2 events have insignificant or minor impacts, and level 3 to 5 events are those that can result in more significant impacts. When reviewing events, we focus on potential consequences and require investigation on all events with a potential consequence level of 3 or higher. All events are continuously tracked, and significant events are reviewed and discussed on a quarterly basis during a CEO-led call with executive, regional and functional leaders.
When we are out of compliance or when a significant event occurs, we commit to transparently disclose and fully mitigate any impacts.
Fines and sanctions
In 2017, we hosted 99 inspections by various agencies that oversee enforcement of environmental regulations. During the year, we received no sanctions; however, we incurred the following four fines:
- Our Yanacocha operation in Peru received three fines totaling $72,900 from the local water authority due to unauthorized water discharge events; and
- The Cripple Creek & Victor operation in Colorado received a $1,000 fine from the Colorado Mine Land Reclamation Board for placement of material outside a permit boundary that was discovered by the site in late-2016 and self-reported to the agency. All corrective actions have been completed.
Detailed information about the citations and orders issued to Newmont in 2017 by MSHA is disclosed in our 2017 10-K report under Exhibit 95.
|Australia||Mt. Leyshon (legacy site)||
Two events occurred on one day in March where auto samplers measured exceedances of the Environmental Authority's cadmium contaminant limit. In both instances, the exceedances were present for relatively short periods, and follow-up samples measured cadmium levels that were in compliance. The event investigations found that both exceedances had a low likelihood of causing environmental harm, and that a bias existed in the samples collected from the auto samplers. Recommendations to rectify the sampling bias have been implemented, while a wider study to identify the potential cadmium source in the catchment remains ongoing.
Approximately 2,080 gallons of very low concentration (0.35 ppm) cyanide solution leaked underneath the tailings pond liner.
During construction, an unknown buried pipe along a road was damaged, intermittently leaking 2,500 gallons of mine-impacted water over a two-day period.
A metal-laden leach solution pipe ruptured, spraying an estimated 86,000 gallons of solution out of containment, the majority of which stayed on site. The solution contained approximately 430 pounds of copper and 600 pounds of sulfuric acid. We undertook significant earthworks to clean up the site. State regulators and key stakeholders were notified of the event and will be kept informed as the site conducts sampling and monitors impacts.
Eight gulls were found in a laydown yard. The cause of mortality was undetermined due to the gulls’ condition upon discovery.
In 2017, we experienced one level 3 social event related to a youth demonstration at our Ahafo mine in Ghana. We discuss the details of this event in the Local Employment and Business Opportunities section of this report. We also had six level 3 events with environmental impacts.
Certifications and audits
All sites maintained their certification as ISO 14001 compliant with the exception of Merian in Suriname and Long Canyon in Nevada, which are both working toward certification within three years of reaching commercial production.
During the year, we implemented our refreshed internal audit program, which integrates multiple internal and external audits and focuses on the most relevant safety, health, security, social and environmental technical standards using our risk- and performance-based approach. Integrated audits were conducted at eight operations and two regional offices during the year. No major findings or corrective actions were identified.
A key element in the implementation of our Integrated Management System (IMS) is achieving global ISO 14001 certification by the end of 2018. In 2017, 51 Newmont employees from eight mine sites, two regional offices and the corporate office attended a 40-hour internal auditor training course designed to provide participants with the tools and techniques required to conduct internal audits on the IMS and Newmont technical standards, which are based on ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 standards.
Our compliance with the Code is discussed in the Cyanide Management section of this report.
Each year, we complete an independent assurance process to verify compliance with the World Gold Council’s (WGC) Conflict-Free Gold Standard. In April 2017, we published our annual Conflict-Free Gold Report, which concluded that Newmont does not operate mines in areas classified by the Heidelberg Conflict Barometer as “conflict-affected or high-risk” and is in conformance with the criteria established by the WGC’s Conflict-Free Gold Standard.
We will continue to maintain ISO 14001 certification at all operating sites and conduct integrated audits in 2018 to achieve global certification by year end. The global certification aims to improve the consistency of Newmont’s core management processes across regions, provide governance to drive performance and progress, improve risk management practices, and streamline reporting across the business.
Additional internal auditor training courses will be conducted to ensure we have competent auditors to maintain strong controls and governance of our IMS program.