Clean, reliable water supplies are vital for communities and ecosystems. We recognize the right to clean, safe water and the dependence on water for hygiene, sanitation, livelihoods and the health of the environment. Water is also critical to our business, and there continues to be increasing pressure on water resources due to population growth, economic development and changes in the climate. The long-term success of our business requires us to ensure future conditions are considered in our approach.
Understanding collective challenges and creating long-term value have informed our global water strategy. Launched in 2014, the strategy aims to reduce water access risks across the business while aligning our efforts to external commitments, including the International Council on Mining and Metals’ (ICMM) Water Stewardship position statement, and the UN Sustainable Development Goal on clean water and sanitation (SDG-6).
The strategy has supported numerous improvements to managing water through a clear framework based on five pillars:
NEWMONT GLOBAL WATER STRATEGY
Purpose: Manage water as a precious resource and work collaboratively to create value and improve lives through sound water stewardship
|Watershed approach||Impact mitigation||Operational performance||External engagement||Internal collaboration|
|Secure water supply for operations while protecting and enhancing other water uses||Mitigate environmental and social water-related impacts in a cost-effective manner||Manage water as an asset through improved performance and compliance with all commitments||Collaborate and engage externally on water policy and challenges||Collaborate and engage internally on water stewardship|
|Define the value of water in the watershed by understanding sustainable yields, water utilization for current and future operations, other beneficial uses and enhancement opportunities||Identify, study and proactively mitigate impacts on sensitive receptors relating to consumption, storage diversion and discharge||Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and Newmont’s water standards and guidelines||Execute a communications strategy to inform stakeholders about water management successes, opportunities and challenges||Continue to strengthen global, regional and site water roles and responsibilities|
|Define and regularly update the evolving watershed estimates including current and future needs, community use, and ecological requirements||Include community and cultural values of water in business planning and avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts||Transparently account for the full cost of water in all operation and project decisions||Collaborate with communities and other key stakeholders to form partnerships to address shared water management issues||Regularly review water performance with cross-functional water teams|
|Evaluate opportunities and identify site-specific projects to enhance beneficial community and ecological uses for incorporation into public targets||Define and minimize financial exposure to water management at closure||Communicate corporate and regional water strategies for all operations and projects||Annually review the site water management charters and water strategy action priorities and update as required, to ensure applicability and relevance|
|Develop cost-effective water conservation opportunities and assess new treatment technologies||Engage with governments and stakeholders on water regulations and policies||Integrate water strategy into business, closure, growth and tailings planning|
|Developed Water Accounting Frameworks (WAF) for each site to consistently report water use and volumes returned to the environment||Implemented a global Water Management Standard, and site and regional water strategies covering the life of operations. Site charters establish clear accountabilities and guide annual water management activities||Set public targets to reduce overall fresh water consumption and applied technologies and practices – including ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis – to reduce fresh water use and increase the amount of water reused and recycled||Engaged local and regional stakeholders to support water management and conservation; invested in improvements to community water access, quality and availability; expanded participatory water monitoring programs; and formed partnerships to educate stakeholders about water use, treatment, recycling and reuse||Developed site-specific water charters, strategies, targets and action plans|
While we have achieved significant milestones, they have largely focused on water management or impact mitigation actions. To better address the long-term physical, reputational and regulatory water-related risks, we are working to broaden our contributions and collaborate on solutions to shared water challenges.
Toward water stewardship
We are committed to providing greater transparency and accountability regarding our water use, deepening stakeholder engagement and collaboration, and applying a catchment-based approach. This includes increasing our understanding of the watersheds surrounding our operations, the current and future demand for each, and the stakeholders whose interests coincide with or differ from Newmont’s. The ultimate goal is to secure access to water in a socially, economically and environmentally responsible way. Effective water stewardship practices build trust and relationships that can also serve as a source of competitive differentiation in securing permits, resources and approvals.
Newmont is currently operating in watersheds with limited water supply, increased population growth and pollution. Within the majority of the watersheds where we operate, our consumption is relatively low compared to total availability and use by others; however, poor watershed management and governance can result in water conflicts, operational disruptions, financial loss, delays in regulatory approval, poor reputation and diminished investment value. The next phase of Newmont’s water strategy, with its focus on stewardship, will evaluate challenges outside of our fence line – such as water over-allocation, uncontrolled extraction, pollution, and lack of storage – and collaboratively seek to address challenges and define opportunities.
For example, the following image depicts the projected changes over time for the Tano River Watershed in Ghana. It illustrates that the basin is currently 40 percent allocated by water users, and the allocation is projected to increase to approximately 80 percent in the future, assuming average conditions and no additional loss or use downstream.
Our efforts to move toward water stewardship are highlighted in the featured case study.
Current and long-term water risks also include those that arise from our operations (e.g., the use of chemicals in processing) and events that we do not control (e.g., extreme weather events and climate change). Managing water-related risks needs to be targeted to the specific areas in which we operate, and take into consideration the physical environment, and social and regulatory context.
To understand the risks at our operations – whether related to our operations or a collective challenge within the watersheds in which we operate – and prioritize mitigation efforts, we conduct high-level qualitative risk assessments of our watersheds, along with using the WWF Water Risk Filter and WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, which evaluate site-level risks. We currently estimate that only three of our operations have medium site-level risk based on the withdrawal and availability of water (CC&V in Colorado and Carlin and Phoenix in Nevada) and that seven of our 12 operations are in areas of high catchment stress (based on WBCSD and WWF Water Risk Filter tools). Water risk categories include the following:
- Water scarcity (baseline water stress) – In some of our operating regions, water availability is limited and there is competition for resources. In these areas, it is especially important to efficiently use water, understand stakeholder concerns and needs, and manage water as a shared asset. This risk is based on the baseline water stress, which is the total annual withdrawal as a percentage of the total available annual renewable supply.
- Water quality – Changes in water quality both within and outside our operations can impact surrounding ecosystems and result in impacts to water users and the environment. Management of water quality includes understanding baseline conditions and potential sources of impact and using treatment systems to meet the developed standards for discharge. All operations within Newmont maintain compliance criteria based on the beneficial use of the receiving water. Influences outside our operations are identified to support collective governance that reduces impacts to the greatest extent possible.
- Excess water – Normal, and less frequent extreme precipitation events, as well as the need to dewater the ore bodies, can result in excess water at our operations. Effective management is necessary to reduce risks to infrastructure, the environment and communities. While previous extreme weather events in regions have presented challenges, we constantly work to understand and manage the inputs and outputs at our facilities through site-wide water balances. Monitoring and analyses are conducted to evaluate system performance, demonstrate compliance and support continuous improvement.
- Watershed challenges (governance, regulations and access) – Some frameworks or governance exist within the areas where we operate to manage competition for resources and potential impacts. However, in some regions, there is limited governance, and access to water or changing regulations may result in risks to ensuring a sustainable resource over time.
The context and watershed risks that exist near our operations are detailed in the following table.
WATER-RELATED RISK BY OPERATION
|Operation||Climate conditions||Water sources1||Water stress2, 3||Water quality||Excess water||Watershed challenges|
|Yanacocha||Moderate precipitation with distinct dry season||GW||X||X|
1 Key: groundwater (GW), surface water (SW), municipal water (MW)
2 Water stress is baseline water stress as defined by the WBCSD Water tool.
3 The climate model’s interannual variability for parts of Australia, South America and North America can also increase the risk of water stress, which is not accounted for in this risk chart. For example, Boddington can have years of baseline water stress or excess water in wet years.
Advancing our strategy will help ensure that future mitigations will be effective in making a meaningful contribution to stewardship, thus lowering risk and securing resources to support operations and growth over the long term.
Because no one entity can manage all these risks alone, we strive to understand the broader challenges in a watershed and work collaboratively toward collective action. Our water stewardship approach supports stronger management of watershed challenges and working with stakeholders on the sustainability of the resources and ecosystems. Examples of collective action include:
- We partnered with the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) in Australia, where the management of water and access is complex due to the extremely arid climate. Through a community investment agreement with PHCC, we are working together on the Hotham-Williams Rivers and Tributaries‘ Natural Resource Management and Conservation Project. The project aims to support better integration of traditional ecological knowledge into catchment planning, build community and local landowner capacity to design and deliver sustainable agricultural practices, and improve catchment water quality for the Hotham and Williams Rivers and tributaries.
- As a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), we are working to develop a joint strategy for meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goal to ensure the availability and sustainable management of clean water and sanitation for all (SDG-6).
- We partnered with the Project WET Foundation – a global leader in water education – to advance responsible use of water resources through community-based teacher training.
The water strategy governance structure establishes clear accountabilities, identifies and prioritizes activities, ensures alignment with operations and business planning, and promotes continuous improvement. Key elements include:
- An executive sponsorship group, which includes members of the executive leadership team, reports on progress and performance to the Board of Directors’ Safety and Sustainability Committee.
- A Water Steering Committee (WSC), led by a regional senior vice president, is responsible for integrating the water strategy and impacts into business planning processes.
- The global water strategy team (GWST) is a cross-functional working group that plans and improves the strategy based on direction provided by the WSC and input received from the regional, site and technical water teams. The GWST meets monthly or as needed, and the WSC meets quarterly.
Our global Water Management Standard establishes the minimum requirements for managing our water risks in line with the global strategy. Through Water Accounting Frameworks (WAFs), each site defines, measures and reports water use by inputs, outputs, diversions and water quality. The WAFs align with the Minerals Council of Australia’s model and ICMM’s guide for water reporting.
All sites are audited to our environmental standards (including the Water Management Standard) on a regular basis, and findings are assessed at both site and corporate level.
Transparently reporting on our performance is a key element of our strategy. The disclosures in this report are based on ICMM’s minimum disclosure standard and align with other disclosure frameworks including the United Nations Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate and the CDP water questionnaire.
Beginning in 2017, we set an annual public target to reduce overall water consumption. We define water consumption as the amount of water withdrawn (which includes all water sources) minus the amount of water discharged. These targets were determined after each site established a baseline from which to measure their performance. Site targets are rolled into regional targets and then consolidated into a global target.
We are also working to set outcome-based objectives aligned with our watershed challenges and SDG-6. These objectives aim to improve the sustainability of water resources, and improve governance and community access to water and irrigation.
WATER PERFORMANCE BY SITE
|Region||Sites||Total water consumed||Total water recycled||Percentage water recycled|
Globally, we met our public water target, for 2018 as well as for 2019, reducing our overall water consumption by 6 percent compared to our 2016 baseline. Each region also met its 2018 and 2019 public target. We will continue to track our performance and identify opportunities to further reduce our water consumption.
At the site level, all sites met their internal target to achieve their respective water consumption reduction target. All sites completed a high-level watershed assessment, reviewed site-level risks and improved their water balance model. Some sites also completed heat maps.
For 2019, our water consumption reduction targets aim to account for our sites’ unique water needs and challenges.
2019 WATER TARGETS*
|Target for sites||Target for Newmont||Region target for reduction in fresh water consumption compared to 2016|
|All operating sites to set specific target based on risks and operating needs||Overall water consumption reduction of 5 percent compared to 2016 base year||Africa – 15 percent|
|Australia – 1 percent|
|North America – 8 percent|
|South America – 1.2 percent|
* The global and regional targets do not include the CC&V, Long Canyon or Merian operations because Newmont did not have a full year of operating water data for these sites. CC&V developed a water target for 2018 and 2019, and 2019 water targets were developed for Long Canyon and Merian. Changes to our operating portfolio and/or business plan may result in adjustments to this target.
WATER CONSUMED, RECYCLED and PERCENTAGE RECYCLED
(kiloliters per consolidated gold equivalent ounce)
|(kL/Au oz equivalent)||2014||2015||2016||2017||2018|
(categories 1, 2 and 3)
Total water withdrawn increased by 6 percent while total water discharged increased by 23 percent (due the commissioning of the Ahafo water treatment plant), resulting in overall water consumption declining by 9 percent. The percent of water recycled or reused remained steady at 72 percent.
Our consumption of water classified as Category 1 decreased from 79 percent in 2017 to 30 percent in 2018 largely due to our continuous improvement of how we categorize our water consumption.
Our water intensity – which we measure as the number of kiloliters (kL) of water needed per consolidated gold equivalent ounce – decreased to 17.3 kL per gold equivalent ounce compared to 18.6 kL in 2017 due to the reduction in overall water consumption.
An important area of work during the year was advancing our global water strategy and progressing our approach from water management to water stewardship. Key activities during the year are discussed in the featured case study.
We signed a three-year partnership agreement with Project WET, a global foundation dedicated to improving science-based education on water. The partnership directly aligns with our global water strategy and was piloted in Peru and Suriname with the aim of strengthening long-term community capacity to manage water and engaging with other watershed users. We will work to identify longer-term (2020 and beyond) outcome-based partnerships and programs to address our more significant risks and opportunities. Activities in 2019 will take place in Ghana.
Newmont’s responses to the 2018 CDP Water Security report received a “B” assessment grade, which is down from an “A-” in 2017 due to increasingly stringent expectations for water stewardship, but ranks Newmont above average for all responders in all sectors.
Notable activities at our operations to address stakeholder concerns and improve our overall water management approach include the following:
- Our Ahafo operation received approval from the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment plant. Ahafo also completed the first cycle of participatory monitoring. Entities and individuals that took part in the monitoring included the EPA, District Assembly, Water Resources Commission, Ghana Water Company and community representatives.
- Ahafo received its permit to discharge fresh water from the water storage facility to support downstream augmentation.
- Akyem completed construction of a water storage facility and interim storage pond to meet requirements of the water strategy.
- Both Ahafo and Akyem completed watershed assessments. Ahafo updated its water balance model and water quality trending analysis. Akyem updated its site water management plan, including models for water balance, water quality and future treatment requirements.
- Our Boddington operation evaluated requirements for long-term water access, including permitting activities for proposed storage. We also worked with regulators to support a permitting amendment for storage and discharge of excess water to promote safe conditions.
- As part of our partnership agreement with the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) to enhance conservation and cultural resource management in the catchment around the mine, we supported PHCC’s development of a River Action Plan that supports restoration efforts for the Hotham and Williams Rivers and tributaries. Cultural heritage values are embedded in the restoration activities.
In North America:
- The Long Canyon operation in Nevada updated the groundwater model for the mine’s next phases and met with key stakeholders to understand potential regional impacts and considerations for use in future design and permitting.
- The CC&V operation in Colorado installed additional monitoring wells to monitor water quality and to support regional groundwater and surface water modeling.
- At the Twin Creeks operation in Nevada, we developed and presented the Kelly Creek Basin Monitoring Plan to the Nevada Division of Water Resources for comment and approval and began quarterly reporting of usage to the agency.
In South America:
- The Yanacocha operation in Peru continued its efforts to improve community access to water and progress collective action on shared watershed challenges. Among the projects during the year:
- Work commenced on improving and expanding the El Milagro potable water system plant as part of a broader “Water for Cajamarca” project. The $3.6 million project will benefit 250,000 people when commissioned by 2021.
- To support farming and livestock activities, we constructed new reservoirs in the communities of Apalin, El Calvario and El Porvenir. We also donated pipes and supported the installation of pipelines to improve drinking water and irrigations systems.
- Yanacocha launched a two-year project to help strengthen the management capacity of local water administrators in 56 villages located in the districts of Cajamarca, La Encañada and Los Baños del Inca.
- At our Merian operation in Suriname, we developed an overall site water management plan and a strategy for managing long-term water trends for compliance. Part of this strategy involves working with NIMOS (Suriname’s regulatory authority) to determine appropriate compliance points and water quality criteria. Merian updated its water balance to include the chemical balance for a few key parameters. The site also held participatory monitoring committee sessions with the local Pamaka and Kawina tribe members.