Vancouver’s Goldcorp Inc. has released a report that details in part its water conservation strategy, Towards Zero Water, with the aim to reuse and recycle all water resources.
In its 11th annual sustainability report, Goldcorp’s CEO, David Garofalo, writes that, “The most far-reaching announcement of the year was the launch of our Towards Zero Water initiative.” While Garofalo admits that 100 per cent recycling and reuse of water in mining operations might be an insurmountable challenge at the outset, he asserts, “Improved stewardship of water resources will give us a competitive advantage, socially, practically, and economically – and it’s simply the right thing to do.”
Overall, the company saw an increase in water extraction in 2015 to 2016 and a consequent decrease in the efficiency of its reuse and recycling of water. Total water use rose from 48 million cubic metres to nearly 55 million cubic metres. Reused and recycled water as a percentage of total water withdrawals fell from 190 to 146 per cent from 2015 to 2016, respectively. These changes were attributed to “deepening mines that encounter and extract more groundwater, coupled with increased precipitation during the year at some of our operations.”
At the decommissioned Equity Silver mine in British Columbia, Canada, Goldcorp has maintained a small team to operate water treatment facilities and maintain the site year-round. In 2016, they “completed a remote monitoring project utilizing fixed, solar powered and GPS monitoring technology that has provided continuous live monitoring coverage.” They also instituted a new technology that will allow them to better understand the nature of flow paths through rock stockpiles to help prevent acid drainage.
“Strong social, economic and environmental performance are important to our stakeholders and, in addition to reporting progress on our goals, our annual Sustainability Report offers Goldcorp another valuable opportunity to engage our stakeholders, respond to questions, and further focus our sustainability and social responsibility priorities,” said Brent Bergeron, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Goldcorp.
Ernst and Young LLP audited the report. Ernst and Young’s assurance statement on the report and the full report are both available online.