Barrick Gold Corp. has released its 2021 Sustainability Report that highlights efforts at the company’s operations to address environmental, social and governance concerns, including in Nevada projects ranging from increasing child care to reclamation closure at the Rain Mine south of Carlin.
“The challenges of fighting poverty, climate change and biodiversity loss are deeply connected, and we have no option but to tackle them together, through a holistic and integrated approach to sustainability management, if we are to make a lasting, positive impact on any of them,” said Grant Beringer, the company’s group sustainability executive.
“While excellent management of environmental aspects is critical for sustainable delivery, this only focuses on one side of the issue. That is why this report has a strong focus on the ‘silent S’ in ESG, demonstrating that responsible mining is an enormous lever for delivering social upliftment and development,” he said in the April 25 announcement.
Barrick gave itself a B grade for the third consecutive year in its industry-first sustainability scorecard, and the company reported that it recorded significant improvements across most of its key metrics, such as procurement of goods and services worth $1.67 billion from local suppliers close to Barrick’s operations and 96% employment of host country residents.
People are also reading…
Barrick’s chief executive officer and president, Mark Bristow, wrote in the report that the scorecard “benchmarks us against industry best practice, our peers, and our past performance.” He said Barrick fell short on safety with two fatalities companywide.
There have been two Barrick fatalities in 2022, one at the Cortez Mine in Nevada, the other at the North Mara Mine in Tanzania.
In Nevada, Barrick operates Nevada Gold Mines, a partnership of Barrick, 61.5%, and Newmont Corp., 38.5%. The new report cites rural education initiatives that included bringing high-speed internet to rural communities, facilitating long-distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, investing in teacher training and leadership initiatives, and supporting driver training for commercial driver’s licenses.
Nevada Gold Mines also promoted science, technology, engineering and mathematics training, partnered with Discovery Education to bring remote learning opportunities to all Nevada students and ensure mining is represented in education programs, and partnered with community colleges to provide trade skills scholarships.
The report states that apprenticeship programs in 2021, in partnership with the College of Southern Nevada and the Clark County School District, included a new program that promotes technical skills for young people in the region by providing opportunities to earn certificates in diesel technology or industrial maintenance.
NGM also is making the effort to bring broadband to all residents in the Elko, Spring Creek and Lamoille areas in a partnership with Anthem Broadband, the report states.
NGM’s efforts also involved improving access to child care in rural Nevada because shift workers “typically tend to start very early in the morning, or end later in the evening, often well before or after school or kindergarten starts or ends,” the report states.
“In rural Nevada, access to reliable child care has proved a challenge for many of our employees and was also starting to become a deterrent for attracting new talent and particularly women to our mines,” Barrick wrote.
NGM partnered with Boys and Girls Club and invested $3 million in the development of two early learning centers in Elko and Spring Creek and a Boys and Girls Club in Spring Creek, according to the report, which states that the centers will be licensed and serve infants through 5-year-olds.
The Elko center is expected to open this May, and the Spring Creek one in November, according to the report.
Also in Nevada, sustainability efforts include working with Western Shoshone, Northern Paiute and Goshute people. Barrick states that “cultural awareness training is a priority for both our partnering communities and NGM.”
To this end, in 2021, NGM produced an informational video and interactive training in collaboration with 10 partner tribes that highlights the history of Native Americans and provides information on discovery of artifacts. All salaried NGM employees are required to complete the training.
The report also states that the video is available to the public at www.nevadagoldmines.com.
Another issue NGM is addressing is geohydrology, updating the models that were once separate for Barrick and Newmont into a single structure and creating the Carlin Trend groundwater flow model. The report states that in 2021 NGM reused or recycled 82% of the water it used, or 471,481 megaliters (124.55 billion gallons).
“Using the Carlin Trend Model, NGM will refine our understanding of the groundwater near our Carlin operations. As we gather input from partner agencies and learn more about the data, the new model will inform our overall water management strategy and planning for future operations,” Barrick writes in the report.
The report additionally states that NGM ranches in Nevada have taken part in the last two years in a targeted grazing program that “aims to reduce the spread of wildfire by strategically grazing portions of land that have high risk of fire spread” and preserve wildlife habitat. A fire in July 2021 showed the fire breaks helped, according to Barrick.
NGM works closely with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to property graze these fuel break areas and leave behind a limited amount of fire fuel. NGM is involved in sage-grouse habitat improvements, the report states, noting that the IL Ranch is home to one of the largest strongholds of greater sage-grouse habitat in Nevada.
“One of the ways we have worked to improve habitat was to remove juniper trees, which were encroaching into important late brood rearing habitat,” the report states, adding that the tree removal was done by a Native American contractor for Owyhee and has led to additional work for the contractor.
Yet another NGM project cited in the 2021 Sustainability Report is the reclamation activities at the Rain Mine south of Carlin. The report states that a two-year project to improve roughly 75 acres of cover on the Rain north waste rock disposal facility began in 2021 toward final closure and to prevent the need for long-term active treatment of drain-down solution.
The project includes regrading slopes and installing a geomembrane liner to reduce infiltration, and Barrick wrote that progress has been made in the removal of mine structures and fixings at Rain.
“During 2021, process tanks at the Rain Mill 3 facility were cleaned, dismantled and all salvageable steel was sold for recycling,” the report states. Soils around the tanks were sampled and no contamination from process fluid found.
In another area, NGM is working on reducing the hazards of moving large volumes of material with heavy mobile equipment, including metal-on-metal incidents that occur with the heavy equipment or light vehicles. A case study showed improvements quarter-on-quarter in 2021.
Barrick’s report on all operations states that roughly $850 million was spent or budgeted for renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction projects, and looks at its new biodiversity standard that has resulted in an increase in key species populations in the Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo near Barrick’s Kibali Mine.
Through its partnership with African Parks and the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature, Barrick is also the sole sponsor to reintroduce white rhino to the park in 2022, the report states.
“Conserving biodiversity is fundamental to planetary survival, essential to tackling climate change and has an important role to play in the water on poverty,” sustainability executive Beringer said in the announcement of the report’s release.
The report is available on Barrick’s website.