I love my work at the Pueblo Viejo mine here in my home country of the Dominican Republic because Barrick adheres to the principle of responsible environmental management.
One key element of this is the involvement of local communities and stakeholders in environmental monitoring. This encompasses a wide range of individuals and groups, including community leaders, academics, teachers, students and faith-based organizations. Because Barrick has a culture of involving communities in its environmental monitoring, part of my job is to teach these stakeholders about our environmental practices and performance and how to use the technology that we use to monitor water, air and soil quality.
Many of these stakeholders arrive with doubt or reservations about mining, so I see this as helping to establish transparency.
Barrick is the only company in the Dominican Republic that does community environmental monitoring. These sessions last three days: two days for training, and one day for collecting water, soil and air samples. The program participants do the sample-taking. Samples are sent to independent labs for analysis and the results are shared and explained to the participants.
Since these monitoring events began in March 2012, results have demonstrated Pueblo Viejo’s positive impacts on air, water and soil quality. The attendees express their satisfaction with the results at the end of each session because they appreciate having the opportunity to take and prepare the samples themselves.
Many of these stakeholders arrive with doubt or reservations about mining, so I see this as helping to establish transparency. We have an attitude of openness so that those outside the company can see what we do inside. This helps to create bi-directional communication about our environmental management, and I enjoy working with local communities to help create that communication.
Pueblo Viejo’s environmental department also provides economic opportunities for local communities. We employ 125 community members in the environmental department on a rotational basis to maximize local employment. These workers have transformed many brown and barren areas of the mine left behind by the mine’s previous operator into lush, green hills.
The people who participate in this program are primarily young men and women from local communities who are growing as people and trying to realize their potential. They’re helping the environment, but they’re also helping themselves by learning new skills like industrial waste collection, re-vegetation, sediment control, plant cultivation, environmental monitoring and conservation work. They’re also earning money that they can use to support their families and further their educations.
When you work for a mining company that has a responsible environmental policy, you can manage environmental impacts from operations in a positive way. This helps an operation create value and development for the local community and for the country. And for that reason I take great pride in my work. I think to myself, "I did what I was supposed to do; what I should do."