When Barrick acquired the concession for the Lagunas Norte mine in Peru, the property contained the former Callacuyán coal mine. It was an old, primitive mine that had left a legacy of waste dumps, acid-water sources, trenches and abandoned infrastructure. Barrick voluntarily committed to remediate the damage and restore the environment, the first such project by a mining company in Peru.
Operation of the Lagunas Norte mine began in July 2005, including the start of a major environmental program at Callacuyán. Since then, the program has focused on two main aspects: improving the quality of the water in the Perejil River basin and revegetation of the former mining area.
Barrick sealed nine adits (horizontal mine entrances) and three vertical shaft s at the old coal mine, and demolished and removed camp infrastructure. The team drained a pond to enable the removal of abandoned coal residues at the bottom that presented a risk to water quality, built 3,500 meters of drainage canals to collect runoff and created an artificial wetland to treat acidic water.
Approximately 60,000 cubic meters of waste rock containing coal has been stabilized by covering it with clay to prevent leaching when it rains. Over the clay is a thick layer of organic soil, and the entire area has been replanted with a new cover of vegetation.
The team resculpted the area’s slopes, and replanted 4.5 hectares with grass and native plants where once there were rock and coal waste dumps. Today, this is a green area that provides a habitat for forest species and animals. Barrick has also constructed a cattle and alpaca ranch in the area of the former mining camp.
“Our approach is to work with communities to ensure that mining development brings about economic and social development for those local communities,” said Darrell Wagner, general manager for Peru. “We call it responsible mining. It involves using proven technology and techniques to comply with the highest standards of safety, health and environmental protection.”
The Lagunas Norte mine is located in north-central Peru about 140 kilometers east of the coastal city of Trujillo. The elevation is more than 4,000 meters above sea level. The site employs about 600 people and creates about 1,300 indirect jobs in the area.