Closure and reclamation of a mining property is a multifaceted process with risks that are equally complex. Growing regulatory requirements and community expectations, as well as increased unit expenses, are also driving the costs associated with closure activities and liabilities higher.
Effectively managing our closure risks from the first through the last phase of the mine lifecycle, and successfully closing and reclaiming mines, are crucial for gaining stakeholder trust and improving our access to land for future mine sites.
Our approach to providing long-term environmental stability and a positive legacy for future generations is detailed in our Closure and Reclamation Management Standard as well as other environmental standards.
The purpose of our global closure and reclamation strategy is to integrate mine lifecycle planning, reduce closure risks and liabilities, and create value for the business and stakeholders.
The strategy’s five pillars – operational excellence, value creation, innovation/research and development, external engagement and governance – seek to achieve the following outcomes:
- Efficient and effective closure planning and execution – reduces closure costs while providing more effective direction for closure practitioners and site management;
- Closure liabilities transformed into benefits – recognizing and developing post-mining opportunities reduces financial burdens while demonstrating Newmont’s commitment to stewardship and sustainability;
- Competitive advantage through innovations – developing or becoming an early adopter of innovative and transformative technologies – particularly those based on existing research – provides a competitive advantage;
- Improved social acceptance – mitigating risks and liabilities through responsible closure while enhancing reputation improves Newmont’s ability to secure new permits and access; and
- Closure culture embedded throughout the organization – developing a culture where future closure costs, impacts and benefits are considered early in the mine lifecycle.
The strategy’s governance structure applies a balanced, multidisciplinary approach to closure planning as well as senior executive involvement and oversight of closure plans and costs. A steering committee, composed of members of the executive leadership team, reviews performance and progress toward targets every quarter. A cross-functional closure working group (CWG) ensures compliance with applicable standards and performs the annual site closure reviews, and the multidisciplinary regional Closure and Reclamation Technical Teams (CRTT) plan and implement closure activities at the site level. The CWG and CRTTs participate in annual global workshops that raise awareness, recognize areas of improvement, and provide opportunities to share best practices and lessons learned. A report on our closure strategy and performance is provided to the Board of Directors’ Safety and Sustainability Committee annually and as needed.
All sites must develop and maintain a closure and post-closure strategy that encompasses risk assessments, stakeholder engagement plans, and closure and reclamation plans that are integrated into the annual mine planning process. The strategies must also include concurrent reclamation plans that involve reclaiming inactive disturbed areas alongside current operations through planting vegetation, controlling erosion and planning for final land use.
Every year, we conduct in-depth technical reviews of closure plans at three to four sites. Site selection, which is based on proximity to closure, length of time since the last review and other risks, is approved by the steering committee. Members of the CWG and external experts conduct the reviews, and any findings and/or deficiencies are tracked in our Integrated Management System (IMS).
Another important element of our strategy is the ongoing management of 15 legacy sites. These include closed mine sites we acquired as a result of a larger acquisition as well as sites we once operated but have since ceased mining. We commit to safely and responsibly manage, decommission and rehabilitate these sites so they pose no threat to the environment or people and can be repurposed when possible for optimal post-mining use.
To effectively manage our closure risks, we set annual targets for concurrent reclamation, which reduces the size of our impact, minimizes acid rock drainage and other environmental impacts, and reduces bonding obligations.
In addition to accruing funds for reclamation costs related to current operations, we also have environmental obligations associated with our legacy sites that require remediation plans. For more details of Newmont’s closure and reclamation costs, please see pages 9, 18, 78, and 125 of our 2018 10-K report.
Globally, we completed concurrent reclamation on 148 hectares during 2018, and achieved our public target to complete 90 percent of planned reclamation activities across the Company.
Our public target for 2019 reflects the sites’ more ambitious annual concurrent reclamation plans, which are better aligned with our long-term closure plans and business objectives.
|Target definition||Target for sites||Target for Newmont|
Percent of concurrent final reclamation activities executed against the site plan
90 percent of concurrent final reclamation annual plan achieved
90 percent of planned reclamation activities achieved across Newmont
All sites met or exceeded their target to complete planned closure and reclamation activities for 2018.
During the year, an additional 501 hectares globally were disturbed by our operations, and a total of 5,648 hectares are in various stages of reclamation.
All sites completed annual closure estimate reviews and commenced closure risk assessments. The reviews, which included a focus on concurrent reclamation, found overall improvement in cost estimates.
We continued our focus on aligning the annual business planning and closure planning cycles, strengthening governance, meeting our public reclamation target, and improving our ability to address findings from closure plan reviews.
We regularly explore opportunities to extend the mine life at all our operations. In 2018, our Lone Tree site in Nevada entered the closure phase, and – based on current metal prices and our business plan – Emigrant (Nevada) will enter closure in 2019 and Akyem (Ghana) and Long Canyon (Nevada) are within five years of their expected closure date. However, mine life extensions for all of these sites, including Lone Tree, are under review and monitored closely should closure planning, including community engagement, need to accelerate.
Updated closure strategy
Much of the focus in 2018 was on maturing our mine closure and reclamation approach through the development of a new integrated mine lifecycle closure planning strategy. The strategy reflects input from key functions, regions and sites as well as from executives on the closure steering committee and members of the cross-functional closure working group.
We began implementing the strategy in the second half of the year. Key activities supporting the new strategy include the following:
- At our annual global closure workshop, participants addressed closure planning process efficiencies and implementing the updated strategy.
- We aligned our closure cost estimating process with the broader business planning review so leaders can better integrate closure estimates into their budgets. As part of our improved governance process, we completed in-depth technical reviews of closure plans at Long Canyon (Nevada), Cripple Creek and Victor (Colorado) and Yanacocha (Peru). In 2019, we will conduct reviews at Ahafo (Ghana), Twin Creeks (Nevada) and Merian (Suriname).
- Each region completed a gap assessment against the updated strategy.
Implementing the new strategy will take place over the next three to five years. Focus areas for 2019 include maturing the regional and site CRTTs, improving efficiencies in closure planning and reporting, strengthening risk registers, developing a stage-gate advancement process with detailed milestones and requirements as a site approaches mine closure, and evaluating more meaningful closure metrics including outcome-based targets. We also will refresh our Closure and Reclamation Management Standard in 2019 to ensure the standards requirements align with the strategy.
Among the activities and highlights at our sites:
- As part of its concurrent reclamation efforts, our Akyem operation in Ghana began the maintenance phase for the 317 hectares in the Kweikaru Forest Reserve that are included in the mine’s reforestation program.
- At the Woodcutters legacy mine site in Australia, we planted wetland vegetation in the borrow pit and continued work to advance our goal of handing over the land to the traditional owners.
- At the Midnite mine legacy site in Washington, we completed reclamation activities for all historic mill operation disturbances at the Dawn Uranium Mill site – a milestone demonstrating Newmont’s commitment to reclamation and closure. The site will continue to work toward regulatory approval. Handover to the Department of Energy is targeted for 2021.
- At our Idarado legacy site near Telluride, Colorado, we continued more than two decades of best-in-class reclamation work on addressing impacts associated with mining activities that took place more than 100 years ago. Details on this work are discussed in the featured case study.
- Our team in Nevada received the Nevada Mining Association’s 2018 “Excellence in Mine Reclamation” award for innovative work in reclaiming the North Area Leach project at our Carlin operation. The award recognized the operation’s three-stage reclamation project that consists of nine engineered stormwater channels across 225 acres. The project, which began in 2017, is expected to be completed in 2019.
- In Suriname, our Merian operation, which entered commercial production in 2016, began seeding as part of its concurrent reclamation activities. The site also commenced work on dismantling the construction camp and reclaiming the area. Construction of the site’s nursery is expected to begin in 2019.