Water Management

Water is a finite resource of high importance to the environment, our mines, our host communities and our local Aboriginal communities. New Gold understands the importance of responsible water use. Our objective at every New Gold operation is to apply efficient designs and technologies to minimize water use through reuse and recycling wherever possible.

Almost all of the water used at our sites is associated with the processing of ore. We also require water for drilling and for dust control on mine haul roads, and use dust suppressants to minimize evaporative loss. All process water used at our mine sites is contained in a closed circuit, with only evaporation at tailings storage facilities or leach pads and entrainment in tailings and concentrates allowing water to leave the cycle of reuse. Our operating mines are zero discharge facilities, with no process water being released to the surrounding environment.

We make significant efforts to minimize water consumption. At Peak Mines, we use water-efficient “thickened tailings” – a method known for using less water than traditional lower density tailings deposition. At Mesquite and Cerro San Pedro, the process solution is recycled and reused on the heap leach pads. At New Afton and Peak Mines, water is recycled through the tailings facility and reused in processing.

Our operating mines reside in arid or semi-arid regions. We source water from groundwater wells or pipe water over long distances, with the exception of New Afton, which sources water from Kamloops Lake. All sites source and use water in compliance with the appropriate regulatory requirements; this provides safeguards so that other neighbouring water users are not negatively impacted. Our monitoring programs are designed to detect any changes in surface and groundwater and we vigilantly investigate variances in water quality that may be due to our operations. This allows us to protect this precious resource.

Performance in 2015

In 2015, we withdrew 6.5 million m3 of raw water from surface, groundwater and water utilities (see the accompanying graph) – overall a 10% increase from 2014 due to increased production at New Afton (84% increase in raw water use) and increased flows required for production at Cerro San Pedro (20% increase in raw water use). Mesquite decreased its raw water use by 13% compared with the previous year. While we have seen increased water use in step with increased production, we have worked to ensure that we use water in the most efficient way possible. Our water efficiency has improved from 0.20 m3 per tonne of ore processed in 2014 to 0.16 m3 per tonne of ore processed in 2015. This represents a 20% improvement from the previous year.

Part of our Water Stewardship Standard requires a detailed water balance to be formulated by our sites. By understanding where water is lost in our processes and on our sites, we can put our efforts into reducing these losses and improving our efficiency and recycling efforts.

Raw Water Consumption – Across Sites1 (million m3)

1.

Includes all water extracted from surface, groundwater and water utilities at our operating mines only, for all purposes, including dust control and cleaning. 2015 figure includes approximately 2.3 million m3 of surface water (35%), 3.5 million m3 of groundwater (54%) and 0.7 million m3 from water utilities (11%). Does not include rainwater or potable water provided at sites.

Raw Water1/Ore Processed Ratio

1.

Does not include rainwater or potable water provided at sites.

In 2015, we implemented our Water Stewardship Standard based on the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard. The AWS Standard is a global standard that outlines what is expected of companies seeking to adopt responsible water stewardship practices. During the year, our sites rated their performance against the New Gold Water Stewardship Standard and identified opportunities for improvement going forward. Part of the standard requires sites to adopt monitoring programs and guidelines appropriate to their regulatory context. This is annually audited and provides assurance that each site is measuring impacts against the appropriate guidelines.