Environmental Incidents and Regulatory Compliance
Every site must internally report every environmental event that is outside of normal operating procedures, regardless of its magnitude or its regulatory significance. Our Health and Safety, Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting Standard includes an Incident Reporting and Ranking Table, in which severity of incidents is ranked catastrophic, major, moderate, minor and low. We work with the appropriate government agencies, partners and key stakeholders to ensure that our activities meet or exceed their requirements. Should any incidents occur, we are committed to prompt reporting and remedial measures to prevent or minimize environmental impacts. A crisis management simulation is done for each site annually, including a simulated environmental incident to ensure sites’ readiness to remediate and communicate potential incidents. All-incident reporting is encouraged as a key factor in monitoring and management for continuous improvement.
Since New Gold began reporting in 2008, there have been no significant spills and no incidents of greater than a “moderate” level. In 2012, there were three moderate incidents, the same number as 2011 despite the significant increase in activity at New Afton and the Blackwater Project. These incidents occurred at New Afton: asbestos-containing material was accidentally disposed in general waste; the sewage treatment plant exceeded permit limits in a routine sample monitoring (promptly reported to regulators and corrective actions taken); and there was one dust complaint which was classified as a moderate incident because it was received through an Inspection Notice from the BC Mines Inspector. A Ministry-approved dust mitigation plan was implemented and included the use of chemical dust suppressants, enhanced reclamation work, a meteorological station, and third-party review of monitoring results.
At Peak Mines, the New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority investigated a minor tailings spill into a controlled area that occurred in 2011. The spill occurred during renovations to the tailings storage facility. The spill was reported and mitigated. This will result in a proceeding penalty, the amount of which has yet to be determined. No significant fines or non-monetary sanctions for non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations were issued to New Gold sites in 2012.