Water Management //
Water is a precious natural resource, and access to clean water is vital for all. We carefully consider local water supply when we plan the water requirements for developing, operating, expanding, and rehabilitating our mines, and in our exploration and pre-development work.
A reliable supply of water – in quantity and quality – is essential for local communities and for our operations. The climatic conditions are different at each of our mines. At Guanaceví seasonal rainfall is abundant, whereas Bolañitos and El Cubo are in more arid regions where water is more scarce.
Mining can have adverse effects on the quantity and quality of surface and groundwater unless protective measures are taken. We are constantly seeking opportunities to minimize freshwater use and we are actively engaged with our local communities regarding the availability and optimal, efficient use of water. We recycle and reuse water to reduce our reliance on fresh water. To monitor and control water flow at our mine sites, we rely on diversion systems, containment ponds, groundwater pumping systems, subsurface drainage systems, and subsurface barriers.
As a consumer of water, we have a responsibility to use and plan our water resources efficiently. We use water in the mining process, and in facilities such as offices and campsites. All of our operations use modern technology and employ innovative solutions to minimize fresh water intake and maximize water recycling.
Water sources for our operations include surface water, rainwater collected and stored, water extracted from the mining process and from wet tailings, and a small amount of purchased water (Bolañitos). At Guanaceví, the Natural Water Commission (CONAGUA) issues water withdrawal permits based on the flow of the river, ensuring it will not be significantly affected.
In 2016, while our total water withdrawal was approximately 5.4 million cubic metres, (very similar to our 2015 consumption levels) a major change at the site level occurred at Guanaceví, where in the first six months of the year almost twice as much water was withdrawn from the river due to a problem with the dry filter system (meaning less water was returning into the system). The issue was resolved in the last six months of the year, when we saw consumption levels similar to 2015. Despite this situation, across our operations we recycled approximately 91% of the water used.
As a method of tracking our water use efficiency, Endeavour measures water withdrawal intensity (measured at cubic metres of water withdrawn per tonne of processed material). In 2016 our water intensity rose slightly, from 3.5 to 3.69 cubic metres per tonne of processed material, representing a slight decrease in the efficiency of our water use.
We have always complied with regulatory monitoring points at all sites. Since 2013 we have expanded monitoring, and monitor both downstream and upstream of our operations. At Guanaceví, new water meters were installed in early 2016 at each water intake point, which improved the accuracy of our measurement and tracking of water consumption.
Primary Source of Water By Site
- Guanaceví – The Guanaceví River, recycled water from tailings, groundwater (egress), and rainwater
- Bolañitos – Recycled water from tailings, groundwater (ingress) and purchased water
- El Cubo – Recycled water from tailings and groundwater (ingress)
- Exploration – Purchased water
We carefully consider local water supply when we plan the water requirements for developing, operating, expanding, and rehabilitating our mines.
Because discharge and runoff from mine sites can impact water bodies, careful monitoring is essential. Our Bolañitos and El Cubo mines have zero discharge into their surrounding natural environments – all water used in the mining process at these sites is collected and recycled back into the system. Our Guanaceví mine discharges water in accordance with regulatory requirements and corporate standards, which include consideration of aquatic and land-based ecosystem environments, as well as potential downstream community users. Guanaceví operates in a climactic region with abundant water, and excess ground water seeps into the mine. Here, we pump inert water from the mine, monitor it for quality, and once it meets quality standards, release the water into the Guanaceví River, where it poses no threat of negative impact and, in fact, helps keep natural waterways flowing during the dry season. Guanaceví has a water treatment plant for the campsite.
At Guanaceví, a total of 12.6 million cubic metres of water was released in 2016, up from the 8.2 million cubic metres released in 2015. The amount discharged depends on both rainfall and on mining activity. The 2016 increase was not a reflection of water management, but prevailing climate conditions – the region experienced heavy rain during the calendar year.
Recycling for Charity
In 2016, all three sites participated in a national recycling-fundraising campaign in support of the Mexican Association to help Children with Cancer (AMANC). Led by our environmental departments, staff collected the lids from plastic bottles, which were then sold with proceeds donated to this campaign.