Our operations and projects are located in remote areas where natural resources such as water are in limited supply and generally require on site power generation.
“Our target is to have all current operations certified to ISO 14001 standards by 2012.”
We share the natural environment with the local communities and accept the environmental responsibility this incurs. Meeting the challenge of environmental management is good for business as it equates to operational efficiency which means minimising energy use, more efficient use of resources and improving our technology.
Our aim is to practise the highest standards of environmental management and performance and to limit our environmental footprint through the efficient use of natural resources, recycling of waste and by contributing to the conservation of biodiversity.
We identify and assess the environmental issues that need to be managed using our baseline environmental impact assessments. These pinpoint the likely environmental impacts of our mines and inform our project planning, development and expansion. All the likely negative and positive environmental impacts are also communicated to local communities at an early stage as part of our public participation programmes.
As projects develop we create and continually update an environmental management system (EMS) to mitigate these impacts, and any others that may manifest during the course of our operations.
“We are committed to transparency and participate in theCarbon Disclosure Project each year.”
Our approach is guided by the IFC Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability. Two of our mines are currently certified to the internationally-recognised ISO 14001 environment management standard and both the Tongon and Gounkoto mines are due to achieve accreditation in 2012.
We categorise environmental incidents according to three levels across all sites and aim to reduce these every year. Our approach is one of continuous improvement and includes a significant focus on Class 3 (minor) incidents, as we have found they act as an early warning system to avoid larger incidents. We have also identified four areas that we consider the biggest environmental risks to the business: energy use, water management, land rehabilitation and waste management. Our approach and performance in managing these four risks is explained in detail in this section.
We measure three levels of environmental incidents at operational
In 2011 there was no Class 1 incident. The majority of Class 2 and Class 3 incidents were reported at Loulo due to ongoing issues with the tailings pipeline (see page 103) and at Tongon which moved into operational phase this year. Randgold received no fines for non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations in 2011.
Energy and greenhouse gas emissions
Our business is sensitive to variations in energy price and supply, which is why decreasing our energy consumption is a priority. We integrate climate-change related issues into the business control framework and have published a five year strategy to reduce normalised greenhouse gas emissions. Our strategy has set a target to reduce all greenhouse gas intensity emissions (both those emissions directly caused by our productions and energy we purchase) by 47% by 2015.
Our site-specific strategies to achieve this reduction are to run the Tongon mine on grid power, Kibali to be operational with at least 50% of power supplied by hydropower and Loulo to complete the capital programme and migration to more fuel efficient generating machines. Morila is powered by fossil fuel power generation and
was forecast to have ceased operations in 2013. The decision to extend Morila’s life beyond 2013 was made subsequent to the setting of the five year strategy and is likely to have a significant impact on this, given the relatively small number of mines in operation. The above target will be updated in the 2012 CDP due in May 2012.
Our greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategy has two central elements: greater use of energy efficiency measures and a move away from diesel generation to hydropower and grid power. We are also committed to transparency and participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project each year.
Our total unverified GHG emissions for 2011, defined as the sum of onsite emissions were 435 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (314 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for 2010). The disclosure is currently undergoing independent verification
and final verified numbers will be presented in the 2012 Carbon Disclosure Project. The increase in total carbon emissions reflects the growth of the company including the launch of operations at Gounkoto and increased tonnage production at Tongon in
2011. This increase in total emissions has been tempered by a continued decrease in emission intensity in 2011, in large part due to connecting the Tongon mine to the national grid, which is gas and hydropower supported. These results are detailed in the table above where emission intensity refers to the quantity of CO2 (or equivalent) produced for every unit of a thousand tonnes of ore milled. This year we reduced our rate to 39.08 tonnes of CO2 (or equivalent) per unit in 2011 from 44.28 tonnes per CO2 in 2009.
Our water management policy is to maximise the use of recycled water for mining and processing and avoid or minimise adverse impacts in relation to discharges in the water. On our current operations we have a three year target to return 80% of grey water to our mine plants, and a five year target to return 85%. We strive
to meet IFC guidelines on effluent discharge and are currently constructing additional handling facilities at the Gara and Yalea underground mines.
We are committed to minimising seepage from tailings storage facilities (TSF). We outsource the management and construction of these facilities to a specialist company and employ an independent consulting engineer to ensure they are monitored at an optimal level.
We have site-specific policies and systems to manage the procurement, transport, storage, use and disposal of cyanide and these are all implemented in accordance with the ‘Cyanide Code’ of the respected International Cyanide Management Institute.
In 2011 we continued to focus on maximising the return of water from TSFs in an attempt to minimise the off-take of fresh water from the environment. All our operations withdraw fresh water from adjacent river systems, from purpose built water storage dams or from dewatering of mining operations. The amount of water we removed from the environment has increased this year due to the addition of the Tongon as well as Gounkoto operations to our portfolio. Water management plans are aimed at increasing the reuse of water whenever we can, and to return it to the environment meeting regulatory limits.
Our freshwater withdrawal increased by 67% to 12 251 million litres in 2011 and our water withdrawal per tonne milled from 0.93 to 1.10kL/tonne, due to the ramp-up at Tongon and increased throughput at Loulo and Morila.
The focus in 2012 will be to stabilise the new operations and implement water management systems aimed at maximising the reuse of water from the TSFs.
The table on the previous page indicates the water use and discharge figures for 2011. The operations are in the process of redefining and standardising the water performance parameters. Randgold will standardise the methodology used across all the operational mines to quantify their water use and impacts and to ensure that the approach is in accordance with current industry best practice.
We are updating the detailed water balances for Tongon and the expanded Loulo operation and plan to reprocess the tailings material at Morila and deposit it in the pit, thus simplifying the current water balance at the mine.
Case study: tailings management at Loulo
Tailings material consists of ground rock and process effluents that are generated in the processing plant. The unrecoverable and uneconomic tailings are discharged as slurry, to a final engineering designed storage area commonly known as a TSF. Ensuring the safe management of a TSF is an integral part of our environmental stewardship. At the Loulo mine in Mali, we decided to locate the TSF in a remote area away from the plant to ensure that it was a safe distance from the Falémé River, which forms the international boundary with Senegal. Risk assessments conducted during feasibility highlighted any uncontrolled release into the river would be a major disaster. Instead we located the TSF 9 kilometres from the plant and constructed a HDPE pipeline within a containment trench to capture any leakage slurry across the terrain from the mine to the TSF.
Building an isolated TSF and connecting pipeline was the best option in terms of environmental risk management, however the ongoing maintenance of the pipe has
introduced new challenges.
Some of the gradients of the landscape proved too high for the joints of the HDPE pipeline and there were a number of minor and medium risk spills during the year. As a result a new steel pipeline has been laid to counter the problem.
This steel pipeline will in turn suffer from higher wear and tear than the HDPE pipeline and so a new management system to rotate at regular intervals in order to avoid the problem of uneven wear of the pipeline has been introduced.
These issues are a good example of the company’s willingness to invest resources in constant improvements and upgrading when it comes to environmental management.
Mining companies have an unavoidably large footprint on the land on which they operate, however our aim is to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity over the lifecycle of our mines and to manage our landholdings effectively.
We manage this process by conducting baseline surveys at the feasibility stage and then taking an annual digital image of the mine using an Ikonos satellite.
This allows us to monitor changes in vegetation cover and measure affected areas as a result of mining activities.
We use that information as part of a policy of constant rehabilitation while the mine is operational, instead of leaving it until the mine’s closure. Unused roads, for example, can be removed and the land replanted while operations continue. This also makes sound financial sense.
The information also informs closure plans, which are updated annually. Financial provision for the restoration of indigenous vegetation is set aside and audited independently each year, or whenever a major change to the mine plan occurs.
Morila is our most mature mine and mine life has been extended to 2021 with the incorporation of tailings treatment. Land rehabilitation of the open pit and mine waste dumps is already underway at the Morila site with more than 51 hectares of land rehabilitated on the site this year and a further 44 hectares planned for 2012.
All sites have a nursery growing indigenous trees, suitable for replanting disturbed areas and local communities are encouraged to get involved by asking schools to plant saplings which we provide. More than 6 000 trees have been planted on the Morila and Loulo sites alone this year.
Our mining concessions cover a total area of 315 900 hectares of which 5 624 hectares (1.78%) have been disturbed and require rehabilitation. There are no endangered species with habitats in areas affected by our mines. In 2011, the environmental impact assessments at Kibali discovered several aquatic species, including a type of puffer fish (Petraodon sp), that has not been previously scientifically documented. This, along with several other previously undescribed species, will undergo the lengthy process of confirming they are indeed new and then named. This has led to further work to successfully demonstrate that the species is not endangered by our activities. More groups of this species have now been found elsewhere in the region and we are delighted to have played a part in this discovery.
We aim to recycle as much waste material as possible. All our mines have waste management plans that cover the sorting and recycling of a range of materials.
Sorting of domestic and metal waste takes place at all mines and often involves small community-based enterprises which are able to extract value from the waste generated. Hydrocarbon waste collection, primarily used oil, is outsourced to reputable service providers who remove the material from the sites.
Implementing our five year energy strategy remains a priority, with a focus on realising a significant drop in our emissions intensity per production tonne. Further work on the Nzoro hydropower project in the DRC will be a major part of this next year.
Water is an increasingly important issue for many of our stakeholders and we aim to further improve reporting by joining the Water Disclosure Project in 2012. We will strive to maximise our use of grey water and reach our target of 85% grey water used in mining and processing over a three year period. The recording and classification of waste generated has begun and will result in better recycling opportunities.