International mining companies — including Barrick — face ever-greater scrutiny from governments, communities, international lenders and NGOs about the environmental impacts of mining. The last decade has seen an emergence of more stringent government regulations and a range of environmental performance standards and initiatives, many of which are industry-driven. As a result of these efforts, the mining sector is doing a better job today of avoiding negative, lasting effects on air, land, water and wildlife than in the past.
For Barrick, continuous environmental improvement is a business imperative. Operating to high environmental standards is one of the most important ways that the company can earn and maintain broad support for its business activities. To reinforce this message, Barrick is initiating a company-wide campaign to promote environmental leadership and encourage employees to become more environmentally aware.
A central focus of the campaign is to drive home the critical importance of compliance with all permits, laws and regulations, as well as Barrick’s own standards and commitments, at all sites. In the coming weeks and months, employees will see and hear more about Barrick’s global environmental practices and standards, including the company’s Environmental Management System (EMS), the framework that guides Barrick’s actions in managing and mitigating environmental impacts.
“Protecting the environment is a key part of our commitment to responsible mining and how we need to manage our business today,” says Barrick President and CEO Jamie Sokalsky. “It begins with compliance, because violations of permits and laws create risks to our business and can jeopardize our ability to operate. We have completed implementation of our EMS at all operations and now need to ensure that high environmental standards are applied consistently on a global basis.
“Employees need to be aware of the concerns that communities and governments around the world are raising about the environmental impacts of mining, and be committed to alleviating those concerns. We need to be continuously improving our environmental performance, and that requires all employees to be aware and involved.”
The campaign will encourage Barrick employees and contractors around the world to think about how they can help reduce the company’s environmental footprint, and to speak out if they identify risks of non-compliance or have ideas on how to improve Barrick’s environmental performance.
“As we focus on reducing costs and controlling spending,” Sokalsky says, “I want to make sure we don’t lose sight of the need to do things safely and with proper regard for the environment and the communities where we operate. We can’t compromise or take short cuts. Doing so harms our reputation and adds costs in the long term.”
Through industry associations, such as the International Council on Mining and Metals, Barrick has been actively involved in the development of environmental best practices and industry-wide standards to manage collective risks. “Mining success is closely linked to people, planet and prosperity,” says Bill Williams, Vice President, Environment.
“Climate change and the use of scarce resources, such as water and energy, are emerging as some of the most important sustainability issues facing the planet. Through awareness and conservation, everyone at Barrick can play a role to help protect the environment and our license to operate.”