Biological diversity – or biodiversity – sustains and stabilizes ecosystems, while declines in biodiversity threaten the environment, livelihoods and societies. Mining’s impact on natural habitats and ecosystems, expanding regulations, and growing stakeholder expectations require that we take a proactive approach to managing our biodiversity risks. Through partnerships with governments, NGOs, academia and communities, we aim to build long-term biodiversity management strategies that deliver sustainable conservation outcomes.
Our Biodiversity Management Standard aims to meet these more stringent requirements and achieve our stated goal of no net loss of key biodiversity values (KBVs) in our areas of influence. As a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), we also commit to the organization’s Mining and Protected Areas position statement in which we agree to respect legally designated protected areas and to not explore or mine in world heritage sites.
Our standard sets the minimum requirements for each stage in the mine lifecycle:
- Exploration – Develop a high-level understanding of KBVs via desktop assessments, input from experts, and on-the-ground assessments using recognized biodiversity datasets, such as the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (iBAT), before any ground-disturbing activities to ensure no net loss of KBVs
- Greenfield projects and expansions – Ensure no net loss of KBVs during project development by providing a detailed understanding of these values, potential impacts and mitigation actions for project design, including early implementation of offset or conservation bank projects
- Operational sites – Achieve no additional loss of KBVs by mine closure through assessment of biodiversity values and risks and implementing mitigations against the potential for additional loss, and complete assessments at all operations to evaluate biodiversity risks and opportunities
- Closure and legacy sites – Enhance the long-term health and resiliency of species and ecosystems in affected areas in accordance with regional conservation goals and long-term land use plans by assessing performance and, if required, additional measures
All operating sites must conduct biodiversity and ecosystem impact assessments to determine potential impacts. If a site identifies any KBVs, it must develop a biodiversity action plan (BAP) that satisfies the Mitigation Hierarchy, which is a widely accepted approach for biodiversity conservation. Currently, five sites – Akyem (Ghana), Boddington (Australia), Long Canyon (Nevada), Yanacocha (Peru) and Merian (Suriname) – have KBVs specific to the area.
- Avoid impacts by locating facilities and access routes away from natural and critical habitats;
- Minimize impacts through the use of appropriate management systems and mine plan designs that limit land disturbance throughout the mine life;
- Restore/rehabilitate ecosystems by progressively rehabilitating affected areas during operations and at closure with a goal of eliminating the impact over time through preservation or maintenance; and
- Offset residual impacts through programs to compensate for biodiversity losses when long-term residual impacts cannot be avoided.
NEWMONT’S OPERATIONS IN RELATION TO KEY BIODIVERSITY AREAS
|Operation and size of site (square kilometers)||Position relative to key biodiversity area (KBA)||Ecological sensitivity||Mitigation plan||Partners/collaborators|
|Yanacocha in Peru
|Contains portions of Rio Cajamarca IBA||The tropical Andes are considered a biodiversity hotspot by Conservation International, and a limited portion of the operation is located within rainforest habitat.
Habitat for Pristimantis simonsii (Paramo Andes frog) (critically endangered)
|Boddington in Western Australia
|Contains portions of Birdlife International “Endemic Bird Area of Southwest Australia”||Woodland and shrubland habitat for black cockatoo; Calyptorhynchus latirostris (endangered), Calyptorhynchus baudinii (endangered) and Bettongia penicillata (critically endangered)||Working with Murdoch University on research to restore black cockatoo feeding habitats at mine sites within the Jarrah forest and, more generally, in landscapes throughout southwestern Australia||Murdoch University|
|Akyem in Ghana
|Contains portions of Ajenjua Bepo Forest Reserve (not KBA but habitat for species)||Forest reserve for IUCN red-listed tree species C. boxiana (endangered) and Necrosyrtes monachus (critically endangered)||
|Merian in Suriname
|Contains portions of upland and lowland ever-humid forest||Rainforest habitat for IUCN red-listed tree species Virola surinamensis (baboonwood) (endangered) and Vouacapoua americana (bruinhart) (critically endangered)||
||Collaboration with global biodiversity experts and working on a partnership with University of Suriname|
|Nevada mining and rangeland operations
(size of site varies)*
|Contains portions of sagebrush habitat||Upland and riparian habitat for greater sage-grouse (not a listed species) and other sagebrush obligate species such as mule deer (least concern) and cutthroat trout (threatened)||
||Among the many partners:
* In Nevada, the operational size in relation to KBAs varies due to the fact that in addition to mining operations, Newmont’s rangeland operations manage 182,000 hectares of private land and 445,000 hectares of grazing allotments on public lands in Nevada.
Partnerships with universities and research organizations – as well as NGOs, governments, communities and other businesses – are key to improving our biodiversity performance and aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goal to strengthen global partnerships (SDG-17).
One of our newest partnerships is with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – the world’s largest environmental network comprising more than 1,300 governmental and non-governmental organizations. In 2019, we will continue to apply IUCN’s protocol for independent verification of biodiversity gains, and we will work with an external organization to develop meaningful metrics that measure our progress.
We also are active members of ICMM’s Biodiversity Steering Committee and the Cross-Sector Biodiversity Initiative (CSBI), which is a unique collaboration among the mining, oil and gas, and banking sectors to develop and share best practice in biodiversity and ecosystem services.
As the first milestone of the partnership with IUCN, we conducted a biodiversity review of our Sagebrush Ecosystem Conservation Program and Long Canyon biodiversity projects in Nevada. The review, which is highlighted in the featured case study, received Mining Magazine’s 2018 award in Environmental Excellence. In 2019, IUCN will conduct a review of Boddington’s biodiversity restoration of the Jarrah forest and offset and apply the IUCN Review Protocol for Biodiversity Net Gain, a step-by-step guide to measure progress on achieving better biodiversity outcomes.
To apply a systematic approach for comparing biodiversity risk, in 2019 we will work with international biodiversity experts to develop a biodiversity indicator methodology that will combine a biodiversity risk assessment tool output with a site-level framework to provide a pressure-state-response (PSR) score and indicator at the site level. The PSR is a cause-and-effect model developed by the OECD. We will pilot this methodology in combination with the IUCN net gain analysis at one of our operating sites in 2019.
We will also form a cross-functional biodiversity working group to promote best practices across our operations, integrate efforts with business planning, and support Newmont’s commitments to conservation and biodiversity. Among the group’s objectives:
- Providing a forum to discuss challenges, needs and opportunities;
- Creating opportunities to continuously improve our Biodiversity Management Standard and supporting guidance;
- Sharing data, lessons learned and best practices;
- Setting priorities, targets and commitments;
- Evaluating relevance and risk of ecosystem services in light of our standard and commitments;
- Developing strategies to raise awareness of Newmont’s approach to biodiversity and conservation to all employees; and
- Sharing external engagement opportunities with IUCN, CSBI and ICMM on biodiversity issues, meetings and webinars.
Through our active membership in ICMM and CSBI, we provided input on IUCN’s comprehensive Guidelines on Business and KBAs report, which establishes a set of standardized quantitative criteria and a common framework for identifying sites that contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity.
At our sites that impact KBVs, notable activities that contribute toward our commitment of no net loss include:
At Akyem in Ghana:
- We collaborated with the Forestry Commission (FC) on a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a biodiversity offset program at the Atewa Extension Forest Reserve. This program aims to mitigate impacts to KBVs created by the mine’s operations in the Ajenjua Bepo Forest Reserve. Under the MOU, the FC will allocate 2,640 hectares in the reserve. In 2019, we will engage with an external expert to develop a biodiversity offset management plan. Once the plan is approved and finalized by the FC, we will conduct a pre-feasibility study to confirm the site’s suitability for the program.
- We began the maintenance phase for the mine reforestation program, in which we replaced by threefold the 101 hectares of the Ajenjua Bepo Forest Reserve impacted by the operation. We have planted 317 hectares of 30 tree species, including two exotic species, in the Kweikaru Forest Reserve to enhance the biodiversity of the Birim North District.
At Boddington in Australia:
- We finalized a Deed of Covenant for the conservation of land on the Hotham Farm (which is adjacent to the Boddington operation) with the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions as part of an approved offsets program. The covenant is a voluntary, legally binding document that has provisions restricting activities that might threaten the land’s conservation values.
- The operation continued to support the Murdoch University-led Black Cockatoo Ecology Project to protect the endangered black cockatoo population of Western Australia. This study uses tracking technology that provides insight into threats to the species. In mid-2018, an endangered black cockatoo became the 500th rehabilitated cockatoo to be released into the wild – on Newmont’s Hotham Farm restoration area – as part of a collaborative research project among Newmont, South32 and Murdoch University.
- Newmont and the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources signed a habitat credit contract under the Nevada Conservation Credit System and Newmont’s Conservation Framework Agreement, which will be used to offset habitat impacts from the Greater Phoenix project and the Twin Creeks sage tailings expansion project. The agreement is the first contract with the state under Newmont’s Sagebrush Ecosystem Conservation Program (SECP).
- Newmont and the Elko Land and Livestock Company, the wholly owned subsidiary responsible for the management of Newmont’s ranches, began work with the Nevada Department of Wildlife on several wildlife studies on the IL Ranch. These studies are tied to the SECP, and include trapping and collaring both elk and Greater Sage-grouse to better understand wildlife-use patterns and disease across the Owyhee Desert and the Tuscarora Range.
- The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) selected Newmont’s Horseshoe Ranch as one of 11 demonstration projects, across six states in the U.S., for its outcome-based grazing authorizations initiative. Outcome-based grazing emphasizes conservation performance, ecological, economic and social outcomes and cooperative land management. The projects will help the BLM enhance its guidance and best management practices.
- We conducted a workshop to discuss strategies for achieving no net loss of KBVs at the Long Canyon Phase 2 project. The group identified plans to manage any potential threat to, and to maintain the viability of, the relict dace and spring snail populations. Action items developed during the workshop were shared with members of the joint Technical Working Group – which includes representatives from Newmont, the BLM, Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – that is developing the Johnson Springs Wetland Complex and relict dace conservation plan.
- IUCN’s review of our biodiversity projects in Nevada included a number of recommended next steps, which we detail in the featured case study.
At Yanacocha in Peru:
- At the Quecher Main project, we conducted biannual monitoring of the survival rate of the Paramo Andes frogs that were rescued and relocated. In support of our no net loss/net positive impact biodiversity commitment, we also commenced work on an offset by identifying the frog’s habitat preferences. In 2019, this work will be incorporated into the site’s concurrent reclamation scope. We will also commence a community education program to raise awareness about the impact vegetation burning has on the frog’s habitat.
At Merian in Suriname:
- We progressed the biodiversity offset program by shaping and contouring artisanal and small-scale mining-impacted lands and planting test areas. The trial assessed the effectiveness of several revegetation methods to determine the best one for the site. An international biodiversity specialist visited the site to evaluate progress and participate in meetings with the University of Suriname – a partner for the monitoring program. In 2019, we will conduct another biodiversity offset trial in a topographically different part of the mine site to test additional variables. Construction of an on-site plant nursery to germinate and grow locally collected seeds and seedlings will take place in 2019.