Protecting the Environment
Clean air, water and soil are essential to all of us. This is why we strive to consistently demonstrate industry best practices, strictly adhere to safety and environmental regulations and maintain systems to identify, manage, audit and remedy potential impacts from project inception to closure.
We aim to maintain full compliance with local regulations and follow international guidelines to ensure that our environmental and safety practices meet the highest global standards. Before we start any mining activities, we identify the potential impacts of our actions, plan ways to mitigate these potential impacts and limit our footprint to only what is absolutely necessary.
Eldorado’s operations had no reportable environmental spills, fines or sanctions for non-compliance in 2014.
Environmental planning is an integral part of our operations. At the beginning of any mining project, we complete a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). EIAs are comprehensive documents that include baseline studies that assess the current state of the environment at the proposed mine site, identify the potential effects of our planned activities and outline steps to minimize any identified risks. EIAs require extensive consultation with nearby communities, as well as considerable input from technical and environmental experts.
In line with international best practices, Eldorado regularly monitors air, soil and water quality, as well as noise levels and energy use. This not only identifies that we are operating within regulations but also provides us with a benchmark upon which we can implement programs to further minimize our use of water, energy and chemicals. We use best available technologies to further ensure environmental protection. Our aim, wherever we operate, is to reduce or, where possible, eliminate our potential environmental impacts.
The EIA for the Stratoni, Olympias and Skouries projects took more than
five years to prepare
and be reviewed and approved by the Greek government.
Case Study: Local monitoring committees in Turkey and Greece
As part of our commitment to transparency and accountability, we helped establish Independent Environmental Committees at Kişladağ and Efemçukuru in Turkey and at Stratoni, Olympias and Skouries in Greece. These groups include academics, scientists and representatives from NGOs and the local authorities. Committee members collect environmental data from our sites and submit it to a third-party laboratory for testing, to ensure independence and accuracy. This approach has helped us develop our credibility by providing our stakeholders with third-party information they can trust. To further promote transparency, we are currently developing an online database where all of the environmental data from Stratoni, Skouries and Olympias will be publicly available in 2015.
Cyanide is used safely in many industries worldwide. When managed properly, it does not harm people, animals or the environment. In gold mining, cyanide is used to dissolve gold in order to separate it from the ore. Eldorado has an excellent track record of effective cyanide management.
At our sites that use cyanide, we take protective measures to ensure the safety of our people and the environment. These measures include:
■ Providing employees with extensive training in safe-handling procedures
■ Providing appropriate personal protective equipment and making its use mandatory in all areas where cyanide is present
■ Designing cyanide handling systems to minimize contact as much as possible
■ In some locations, covering ponds containing cyanide with plastic balls to deter birds
■ Installing air quality sensors in and near locations using cyanide
While cyanide breaks down naturally through various physiochemical and biological processes, industry best practice now includes detoxifying cyanide after the gold has been extracted and before the cyanide is discharged into tailings facilities. Eldorado uses the INCO progress – one of the most common and proven technologies for cyanide destruction – at its Tanjianshan, Jinfeng and White Mountain mines in China.
The Cyanide Code, developed by the International Cyanide Management Institute, outlines best practices for handling cyanide from production to disposal. In 2012, Eldorado applied for certification for all our mines where cyanide is used. In 2013, Kişladağ was successfully audited and certified as compliant. Our Jinfeng mine was audited in late 2014 and received certification in early 2015, which makes it the first gold mine in China to achieve full compliance. Tanjianshan and White Mountain are working to meet Code requirements at the site level by mid-2015. By becoming Code signatories, we aim to ensure that all our operations are following global best practice in cyanide use.
For more information regarding the Cyanide Code, please visit: www.cyanidecode.org
Water is a vital resource and we recognize the importance of conserving and managing it effectively. All our processing plants recycle and reuse water. Water availability varies by site, so we have different methods in place to adapt to the needs of each region. For instance, at our operations that have limited water access, we have implemented extensive water conservation and recycling programs. Rainwater runoff from our site buildings is collected, treated and used as part of the mine’s industrial water requirements.
Water Use (thousands of cubic metres)
Recycled and Reused Water
Case Study: Water treatment plant at Kişladağ
The Kişladağ water treatment plant, installed in late 2013, treats up to 5,000 m3/day of surface water from the waste rock dump and groundwater from the open pit. In 2014, we began using the treated water in the processing phase, reducing the need to collect fresh water from wells. As much water as possible is recycled in the process, and in the dry season the additional water is used in water trucks to suppress dust at the site. Excess treated water is discharged as a final option.
Case Study: Tanjianshan tailings management
The tailings management facility at Tanjianshan is located approximately 1 km downstream from the processing plant. With a maximum height of around 40 m, the double-lined facility has a groundwater collection system and is constructed to minimize risk. The tailings facility is operated with zero discharge, and all process solution is reused in the processing plant.
The facility was designed by an internationally recognized company, evaluated by a state-owned Chinese engineering firm and then approved by state authorities to ensure international and national standards were met. Construction was supervised by both site personnel and the original designer, and routine inspections are completed by government authorities, site personnel and the original designer.
Groundwater is regularly monitored upstream and downstream of the tailings facility and the results are reported to government authorities. Tanjianshan has not had any non-conformance readings.
Most of Eldorado’s direct energy comes from fossil fuels and electricity. We recognize that emissions from energy use can have environmental impacts. Energy is also one of the key cost factors at our operations. Tracking our energy use allows us to identify key target areas for improvement, and strive to reduce energy use by evaluating and implementing energy-efficient processes. We also report our operations’ direct energy emissions to the CDP (previously Carbon Disclosure Project), and have done so since 2012.
We saw a
in energy consumption per tonne of material loaded at Kişladağ as a result of shifting to electric shovels.
Case Study: Electrification of fleet at Kişladağ
To improve energy efficiency on site, Kişladağ is gradually upgrading its fleet of mining equipment to use electric power. We began using electric shovels at Kişladağ in December 2013 and increased their use throughout 2014. The shift in equipment has resulted in a decrease in our diesel fuel costs and an increase in energy efficiency. In 2013, 3% of total loading was done using electric shovels, requiring 1.4% less energy per tonne of rock loaded than in 2012. In 2014, electric loading increased to 28% of total rock, resulting in a 26% decrease in loading energy consumption per tonne of rock. As Kişladağ continues to add more efficient electric mining equipment, we expect to see further decreases in our unit consumption of energy.
Closure and Reclamation
We start working on plans for mine closure and land reclamation at the beginning of every project’s initial design phase. Where possible, we rehabilitate areas no longer needed for operational use during the life of our mines. We work with environmental experts to identify indigenous plants and trees that will restore the site to a productive ecosystem.
We are doing this at Jinfeng in China, where we are rehabilitating a former rock dump, planting shrubs in slope areas and transforming flat surfaces into fertile farmland. To date, almost 46 ha of the rock dump have been rehabilitated. Farmland is cultivated over two years for the soil to have enough phosphorus, available potassium and total nitrogen to support crop growth. In a region with very little flat land, this arable space is now being used to grow fruit and vegetables. The produce is used at the mine canteen and is distributed to local village people at the local Kongfang Market that Eldorado helped to rebuild in 2013.
In 2014, we
of a former rock dump at Jinfeng.
Case Study: Olympias Nursery
Greek Nurseries S.A. was founded in 2008 and is owned by our subsidiary, Hellas Gold, and our Greek joint venture partner. The 15 ha nursery area is about 2 km from the Olympias mine in an area that was once a pyrite dumping site.
The nursery uses modern agricultural technology to grow approximately 500,000 native trees, shrubs, grasses and other plants each year in a 4,000 m2 greenhouse and on 500 m2 seedbeds. Plants are watered using excess water from the Hellas Gold mines. The plant material is collected locally and the nursery replicates conditions similar to where many of the plants will ultimately be placed: in rehabilitated and landscaped areas at Hellas Gold and partner project sites, including the old Olympias tailings facility.
Now one of Greece’s largest plant nurseries, the nursery has approximately 10 full-time employees, and hires additional seasonal workers as needed.
“We started off with our parent companies as our main customers, but have managed to become a supplier to some of Greece’s larger nurseries,” says co-founder of the project and current production manager, Apostolos Noutsios. “Until recently, they were bringing most of their stock in from abroad, primarily from Italy. That forced us to grow our business, to add new species and to produce increasingly larger quantities.”
Unlike most nurseries, Greek Nurseries prefers to grow plants through seed propagation rather than other methods. “Eighty percent of our production comes from seeds,” says Lina Kontou, the nursery’s agricultural production consultant, who has been involved with this project since the nursery was first founded. “This is exceptionally rare by Greek and international standards because it’s difficult and time-consuming to collect, clean, store and handle seeds properly to increase their germination rate. However, it generates much healthier plants. When a plant is grafted, the resulting plant is the same age as the root stock. Seeds produce new plants.”
Adds Apostolos Noutsios: “Before these plants are sent to their ultimate planting sites, we toughen them up: leaving them without fertilizer and letting them experience some stress so they’re ready for the imperfect growing conditions found in nature. That’s the most important thing our nursery offers. It is difficult to find the large quantities of plants needed that have been ‘trained’ specifically for rehabilitation on the open market.”