renewable electrical energy supply certified in Morococha
Managing Environmental Impacts
Environmental stewardship is a management pillar throughout our organization, right from our operators and technicians in their daily work, to our relationships with communities and governments in each country, to our corporate team, Board of Directors, and investors. We work to minimize and mitigate the environmental impacts of our operations in each phase of the mining cycle, from exploration through development, construction, operation, closure, and post-closure. We strive for continual improvement and have voluntarily adopted international performance standards, including the Mining Association of Canada’s TSM program, across all our operations.
We recently updated and expanded our Environmental Policy to include more specific information relevant to climate change, energy, water, biodiversity, air quality, and cultural heritage.
Access to water and sanitation are recognized by the United Nations as human rights, reflecting the fundamental nature of these basics in every person’s life. Lack of access to safe, sufficient, properly managed and affordable water and sanitation and hygiene facilities has a devastating effect on the health, dignity and prosperity of billions of people. It also has significant consequences for the realization of other human rights. Maintaining water flows in certain perennial streams and aquifers is required to protect ecosystems. Water is, however, also a necessary input for mining processes and in some cases groundwater must be extracted to allow safe mining of deeper ore bodies. Mining has the potential to affect both local water quality and quantity. In recent years, the mining industry has emphasized a need to move from site-focused water management to a more holistic, catchment-wide, water stewardship approach in dialogue with COIs.
For Pan American Silver, we recognize that water is essential for health, agriculture, and other industries in the communities near our operations. Effective water stewardship and management is essential to developing access to valuable mineral resources, protecting shared water resources, respecting the rights of other water users, and avoiding impacts that may occur within and beyond our operating boundaries.
Tailings Facilities and Waste Management
Mining operations generate mineral waste including waste rock, processed ore, and sludges or tailings. Tailings are by-products of precious and base metal ore processing and mineral and metal extracting. During processing, ore is crushed, milled and processed into wet slurry in order to extract the minerals or metals. The residual, non-economic ground rock, is tailings. Tailings are generally stored in above-ground, engineered impoundment facilities, which allow the separation of water for recycling or discharge. Processed ore piles may be stacked for metal extraction through heap leaching. Recent catastrophic failings of tailings dam facilities in the world have demonstrated the potential magnitude of damage to communities, employees, and the environment that can result from a facility failure. This is why safe management of tailings facilities has become a global priority for the mining industry, as well as governments, insurers, investors, and communities.
At Pan American Silver, tailings and heap leach facilities are treated with the utmost importance. Our objective is zero harm to people and to the environment. Responsible management of tailings facilities and heap leach pads, along with management of other mining waste is imperative to maintaining worker, community, and environmental health, and is essential to our social acceptance.
Mining activities require the development of infrastructure, which alters the natural features of the local landscape. Open pit mines, processing plants, mine waste rock facilities, ancillary facilities, supporting infrastructure construction and roads can damage habitat, impact individual species, and affect overall ecosystem health. At Pan American Silver we recognise the importance of biodiversity for the preservation of fragile, often remnant, ecosystems at a global and local scale.
We strive to minimize the footprint of our operations to avoid biodiversity impacts by design, and actively pursue reclamation and conservation initiatives with a goal of species protection and no net habitat loss.
Mines have finite lifespans, and mining companies are responsible for managing their impacts not only during mine operations, but also after mine closure. This means restoring land to a beneficial state and ensuring no health and safety risks remain from any mining wastes, equipment, and infrastructure left behind.
At Pan American Silver, our desire to leave a positive beneficial legacy in the local environment and in our host communities means that we engage local communities and governments in planning for mine closure before a mine is in operation. We aim to integrate social and environmental considerations in the closure plans for each of our sites.