Message from Robert Gallagher, President and CEO
I am pleased to report that in 2015 we met or exceeded the high standards of corporate responsibility we have set for ourselves. Congratulations to everyone at New Gold and to the community groups who have become our partners in building long-term, sustainable prosperity.
I have always believed that corporate responsibility is an ongoing effort, in which yesterday’s achievements become a platform for tomorrow’s improvements. With that in mind, I will provide an overview of our principles, our 2015 achievements and our track record since 2009, when New Gold completed its successful merger with Western Goldfields.
My retirement as CEO is approaching in June 2016, and I will continue to remain involved with the company in an advisory role subsequent to my retirement. As I reflect on our accomplishments, I am gratified that our outstanding growth record as a low-cost producer has been matched by enhancements in our internal systems for achieving our corporate responsibility goals. For example, we have implemented common standards for Health and Safety, Environment, and Community Engagement and Development across all our operations.
We have also implemented a Leadership Development program for employees based on corporate values that are essential for our success, such as integrity, innovation, creativity and teamwork. We are creating value while promoting the well-being of our employees, the communities where we operate and the environment we live in.
We are signatories of the United Nations Global Compact, and our policies and practices are guided by its principles with reference to human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption. Our standards are based on best practices and international guidance such as ISO 14001 (Environmental), OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety), ISO 26000 (Social Responsibility) and the International Cyanide Management Code. As a member of the Mining Association of Canada (“MAC”), New Gold’s operations adopt the MAC’s Towards Sustainable Mining Protocols.
Living up to our principles has led to third-party recognition. New Gold is proud to have been listed among Maclean’s/Sustainalytics Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada and among the Future 40 Most Responsible Corporate Leaders in Canada by Corporate Knights.
Employee Health and Safety
The starting point for all our achievements, including in the areas of social responsibility, is the health and safety of our employees. We seek to ensure that they are safe in their workplace and empowered in their career aspirations.
In 2015 New Gold achieved the best safety results in its history and, we believe, the best in the industry – as measured by our Lost-Time Injury Frequency Rate and our Total Reportable Injury Frequency Rate.
This outstanding performance was followed by the numerous safety awards our operations have received over the years. These include the John T. Ryan Award for premier safety in mining, the Best Safety Culture in Canada, the PDAC A Safe Day Everyday Award, the Casco de Plata (Silver Hard Hat) safety award from the Mexican Mining Chamber, the British Columbia Certificate of Recognition and the American Red Cross Real Heroes Award for safety in California. This is a tremendous cumulative record of accomplishment. As a company, we do not focus on winning awards, but it is gratifying when third parties recognize the efforts of our employees.
Wherever New Gold operates – in all stages of mining activity, from early exploration and planning, to commercial mining operations through to eventual closure – the company is committed to excellence in environmental management. Beginning with the earliest site investigations, New Gold carries out comprehensive environmental studies to establish baseline measurements for flora, fauna, earth, air and water. During operations, the company promotes the efficient use of raw materials and resources, and works to minimize environmental impacts and maintain robust monitoring programs. After mining activities are complete, New Gold’s objective is to restore the land to a level of productivity equivalent to its pre-mining capacity or to an alternative land use determined through consultation with local stakeholders.
- New Gold had no major environmental incidents.
- Our New Afton Mine continued to be the only mine in North America with ISO 50001 Energy Management certification.
- We established an Independent Tailings Review Board for our Canadian operations, as part of our assurance program, and showed continued improvement of our systems against the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) Tailings Management Protocol. One of the challenges faced by our industry is ensuring the confidence of our stakeholders in our tailings facilities. We believe that, through constant communication, we can answer the questions that our host communities have every right to ask.
- Cerro San Pedro completed the reforestation program in the community of Monte Caldera.
Our strong 2015 environmental performance reflects the emphasis we have always put on protecting the environment. An example is the focus we have placed on meeting the highest standards of cyanide management at our operations where cyanide is used in the processing facilities. For example, in 2015, our Cerro San Pedro and Mesquite mines were fully recertified against the International Cyanide Management Code.
Community Engagement and Development
Guided by our Community Engagement and Development Standards, we are actively participating with the communities around our sites with a focus on contributing to their economic dynamism and social well-being. We believe making a lasting and positive contribution to sustainable development is a key driver to achieving a productive and profitable business. More than that, it is just the right thing to do.
- Since 2014, we have reached Participation Agreements with principal Aboriginal groups at the Rainy River project and are working on closing the final agreements in 2016. We are seeking to ensure we promote and facilitate opportunities for our partners in the areas of business development and employment. These efforts are already bearing fruit, with of our permanent workforce at Rainy River drawn from Aboriginal groups growing from 17% in December 2015 to 30% by March 2016.
- Cerro San Pedro continued to work with its local communities as we move towards closure by continuing to support an entrepreneurship program and a local fair to encourage small business. We expect great results from our entrepreneurial program so that the local communities retain a diverse and vibrant economy.
Let me take a moment to stress the importance of building mutually beneficial relations with our Aboriginal communities. Our record in this area has become an integral part of New Gold’s reputation in the industry and, in my observation, among current and prospective employees. It all began with our industry-leading Participation Agreement at New Afton, which served as an example of success for our relations with Aboriginal groups at Blackwater, where we signed successful Exploration Agreements, and now at Rainy River. We have invited delegations of indigenous groups from each site to meet their counterparts at other sites in Canada. Truly, our track record has become a calling card for us wherever we operate.
As a growth company, and with Rainy River next up in our development list, New Gold can never rest on its laurels when it comes to corporate responsibility. We have built a great values-based company, where employees take our core values to heart. There is more to do, both in continuing our excellent track record at our operations and honouring the great local welcomes we have received at Rainy River and Blackwater. As I continue to remain involved with the company in an advisory role in 2016 and beyond, I will continue to take a keen interest in our corporate responsibility performance. I have every confidence that we have the right team in place and a culture of commitment among our employees, which will help us build on our success as a responsible mining company.
President and Chief Executive Officer