Reclamation and Closure Planning

We start planning for a mine’s closure when the mine is still at the design stage. Each of our mines has obtained regulatory approval for its closure rehabilitation plans, which are revised and updated regularly throughout the mine’s life to ensure physical and chemical stability of the waste material and structures that will be left behind. The closure planning includes restoring the land to a level of productivity equivalent to its pre-mining capacity, wherever possible, or to an alternative land use determined through consultation with regulators and local stakeholders. New Gold operations practise progressive rehabilitation of historic mining areas and lands affected by its activity as soon as areas become available.

Responsible Closure at Cerro San Pedro: the Cerro San Pedro Mine is the first New Gold mine to go through a planned closure process. We are taking this opportunity to build on industry best practices and create a model for socially responsible, integrated closure.

In 2015, we completed the New Gold Integrated Closure Standard. The standard will be implemented in 2016 and aims to provide guidance to sites regarding closure planning such as time frames in connection with operational decisions related to the different phases of mining. This takes into consideration adequate financial, physical and human resources to ensure local communities’ interests are understood and considered during closure planning.

At our New Afton mine, the newest of all of our operations, we are already working towards developing indicators of successful remediation. New Afton has collaborated with the University of Guelph and its Barcode of Life project to use innovative technology in the area of genomics to measure differences in arthropod (insects, spiders, etc.) numbers and diversity between a disturbed and undisturbed site. By measuring these parameters, the site can optimize the composition or density of the vegetation structure to ensure the ecosystem left after final reclamation is a functional one.

New Afton has applied this innovative technology to one round of sampling and seeks to do further sampling programs in the future to gauge the effect that time has on re-establishment of ecosystems in reclaimed areas. This data can then be provided to regulators, partners and communities of interest to provide successful results of reclamation efforts.

Performance in 2015

In 2015, 19 hectares of land were reclaimed within our sites (a 15% increase over 2014). This included a wide range of activities such as seeding, replanting, subsidence work of filling or capping mine shafts, and removal of contaminated material.

From the very beginning, Cerro San Pedro has set a goal to reforest a total of 373.4 hectares of land in areas surrounding its operation. In 2015, we exceeded the goal by 5.5% by reforesting 393.3 hectares. Every year, as part of our Reforestation Campaign, our employees join forces with the communities to fulfill our commitment to protect the environment. We launched our campaign by planting 5,000 trees with 500 volunteers. Moreover, we are currently working towards our overall target of producing or acquiring a million plants during the life of our mine. To date, we have produced 713,844 plants in our nurseries; that is over 71% of the goal we set. Of the plants in our inventory, 121,890 are cacti, which are protected by Mexican Official Standards.

Our Peak Mines has also put a considerable effort into this aspect at two rehabilitation sites, Gladstone and Silver Peak, through the use of small-scale absorption banks to make the most of Cobar’s limited rainfall. Both sites are located on natural hill slopes and were subject to accelerated levels of surface erosion. The technique of absorption banks involves forming banks along the contour approximately 10 metres in length. The end of each bank is made slightly higher, enabling water to pond against the high side of the bank and encouraging growth. The addition of litter and branches assists in minimizing soil erosion from rainfall run-on and provides coverage for the establishment of new growth. Seeding the site with native grasses has proven rewarding, as new growth has successfully been established.