Message from the President and CEO
Responsible development is a philosophy that extends throughout our Company, and helps to formulate every decision we make. We are measured by our ability to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of our people. We support the cultures and social values in our host communities, while working to develop sustainable local economies. We are also responsible for environmental stewardship over the air, land and water throughout the life cycle of each site, and for reclaiming mined land so that it may be used and enjoyed once mining is complete.
This, our fifth Sustainability Report, again demonstrates our commitment to disclosing our achievements as well as our challenges in this key aspect of our business. Once again, we are following the principles of the Global Reporting Initiative, for consistency and transparency in reporting and greater comparability with past performance.
We remain committed to the United Nations Global Compact’s principles on human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption and have adopted the New Gold Human Rights and Ethical Conduct Policy in 2012.
Our primary responsibility is always to our people. We are committed to promoting their welfare, developing their careers, and protecting their health and safety. I am pleased to report that once again there were no fatalities at any of our operations and that across the Company, our Lost-Time Incident Frequency Rate (LTIFR) decreased by approximately 23%, and was 66% lower than the average rate for those jurisdictions in which we operate. Our achievements this year are directly attributable to the commitment of our workers and contractors and the introduction of a new Health and Safety Management System, which is being guided by our Corporate Director of Health and Safety. This system of proactive prevention activities identifies a series of Lead Safety Indicators, activities which are consistently applied across all operations to address risks and protect people. Over the year, we successfully completed 85% of these activities.
At Mesquite, the LTIFR was reduced by a remarkable 75% in 2012. At New Afton, the Total Reportable Injury Frequency Rate decreased by 18% even though the site experienced a construction peak with a headcount approaching 1,500 workers and had to transition from construction to operations. A significant challenge to health and safety was the fact that many of the workers at New Afton came with little or no direct underground mining experience. Their performance and commitment to working safely individually and collectively is a direct testament to the positive culture New Afton has built. Cerro San Pedro was recognized by the Ministry of Labour with the nation’s highest safety designation. In addition, it operated for over one million hours without a lost-time injury.
In 2012, we launched a cross-company, values-based leadership program, which was designed to develop principled leaders and decision-makers in various levels of the organization. The program will continue through 2013.
At New Afton, where we successfully made the transition to an operating mine ahead of schedule in 2012, our Participation Agreement with the Tk’emlúps and Skeetchestn Bands moved into its next phase: New Gold made its first direct royalty payments to the bands. The Participation Agreement’s effects can be seen throughout the region, where local First Nations businesses provide the mine with a broad range of support services, from construction and carpentry to catering.
At Blackwater, we finalized two Exploration Agreements, and initiated discussion on a Participation Agreement for the construction, operation and closure phases of the project. Aboriginal people make up over 20% of the Blackwater workforce, very close to New Afton’s percentage. Throughout the region, we actively support economic growth, by engaging local suppliers and services. Our efforts at Blackwater and New Afton were recognized with a number of awards, including the British Columbia Mining Sustainability Award, the Corporate Champion for Aboriginal Business Award, and the Developer of the Year Award.
Outside of British Columbia, our largest community development efforts were at Cerro San Pedro, where we made great strides on a Sustainable Development Program, which is a strategy for business development and social planning to ensure a sustainable community and a diverse economy beyond the life of the mine.
Caring for Our Environment
At New Gold we continually seek new strategies for enhancing our environmental performance, including programs to improve energy efficiency, reduce our carbon footprint and minimize our use of water and other resources. For example, at New Afton, we installed an Energy Management System that should result in annual energy savings of 5% to 8%. An aggressive energy-reduction program has resulted in up to an 80% reduction in heat loss and almost 200 tonnes less CO2 released into the atmosphere. We expect New Afton to be compliant to the ISO 50001 energy management standard by the end of 2013.
We made progress in our drive to certify all our cyanide-using mines to the International Cyanide Management Code (ICMC). In 2012, Mesquite was fully certified, and we expect Cerro San Pedro and Peak Mines to be certified or to achieve substantial compliance by the end of 2013.
No major environmental incidents were reported at any site. 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 defined.
We continue with progressive reclamation and revegetation activities, including the rehabilitation of historic mining areas for which we have assumed responsibility. After mining activities are complete, our objective is to restore the land to an adequate level of productivity supportive of sustainable land use.
For 2013 and beyond, we have set a number of objectives for safety, community engagement and development, and environmental performance. We have set targets of 95% of our Lead Safety Indicators, and, as a minimum, a further 10% reduction across all operations for Reportable Incidents. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that our people are protected from injury and harm. We will continue to work on the Sustainable Development Program for Cerro San Pedro. This is a major milestone for New Gold, requiring significant community consultation, which will guide our investments and actions. This operation has passed the midpoint of its life cycle and we want to ensure that the local community is well-prepared socially and economically for the eventual mine closure.
Our environmental objective is to define the standards and components of a New Gold Environmental Management System. Over the course of 2012, it became apparent that the large number of guidelines and standards such as International Organization for Standardization (ISO) ISO 14001 for environmental management, ISO 26000 for social responsibility, and the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining were difficult for site management to administer. In response, New Gold management will embark on the development of an Environmental Management System and a Community Engagement and Development System that will function as internal standards with clear, measurable objectives. These will be designed with ISO 14001, ISO 26000 and other standards as reference, such that compliance with our internal standards will ensure compliance with the multiple relevant international standards.
Everyone, at every New Gold site, has contributed to our collective efforts in health, safety, environmental stewardship and socio-economic sustainability, and I extend my gratitude to them. I look forward to continually improving our policies, procedures and performance over the years to come.
President and CEO,
New Gold Inc.